…Destroys cash, goods, property worth over N300 million
From Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
Residents and shop owners at No.7 Aguata Street in Okpoko community in Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State have are counting their losses following a fire outbreak that destroyed their money, goods and household items worth over N300 million.
Although no life was lost or injury sustained in the fire incident, it, however, took the efforts of youths and neighbours to evacuate the children from the building when the fire started at about 2:30 a.m.
The fire was said to have been caused by electrical fault that sparked off light when a high voltage power surged from an EEDC repaired line.
Items destroyed by the fire included over N200,000, two wholesale provision stores, two wholesale beer warehouses, an article shop, electrical shop and a barbing salon.
The landlord of the building, Chief Nicholas Osuizugbe, said that the fire started immediately EEDC restored electricity light, which had been off for some time in the area, adding that due to the high voltage it sparked off light from one of the rooms in the building.
According to him, he lost over N80 million from the fire disaster, which he said has rendered him, other shop owners and tenants homeless.
He, therefore, called on the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), and State Emergence Management Agency (SEMA) to come to their aid.
Osuizugbe stated that they contacted the fire service officials who came about two hours after the fire started, but ran out of water some minutes after they arrived and went away until the fire destroyed everything in the building.
The traditional ruler of Okpoko community, HRH Igwe Benjamin Moufunanya, who was at the scene of the fire incident, described the fire as a big disaster which has rendered the landlord, a recognized chief in the area, homeless.
He lamented that EEDC which does not give them electricity often had the one they gave them turned out be destructive to the residents.
He, therefore, demanded compensation from the company, stressing that that it was the high voltage current that caused the fire incident.
HRH Moufunanya, however, called on the governor of the state to provide electricity and good roads in Okpoko community, saying that the community has the highest population where winner of any election was being decided, regretting that the community was neglected.
Also, the President-General of the community, Sir Linus Ezenwamma condemned the fire outbreak, blaming it also on the EEDC.
He said that he had already laid a complaint to the EEDC management over the incident just as he blamed officers of the fire service for arriving late.
He pointed out that had the fire fighters came on time the whole house would not have been destroyed by the fire.
Ezenwamma attributed the attitude of the fire fighting officers to laxity to duty and not lack of fire-fighting equipment, saying that fire service of today is better of those of yesteryears, stressing that the government has provided vehicles, sunk boreholes, but the fire officers were not up and doing.
The Councilor representing Ward 6 in the community, Chief Louis Ipere, who was at the scene of the incident to sympathize with the victims, described the fire as a big calamity to the people and called on Governor Willie Obiano to assist the victims.
A victim and tenant, Mrs Edith Udeagha said that the fire has rendered her and her five children homeless, saying that they were taking refuge in a neighbour’s house that provided cloth for her and her children.
She disclosed that the fire also destroyed N80,000 meant for the payment of her children’s school fees, saying that the family lost about N2 million to the fire.
She, therefore, called on well meaning Nigerians, corporate bodies and NGOs to come to their aid.
Another tenant, Mrs Chinyere Eze thanked God for saving her and her six children from the fire, which she said destroyed everything they had, adding that N250, 000 from meeting contributions was consumed by the fire.
Other victims and owners of the wholesale beer warehouses, Gilbert Ucheji and Amaka Ene, said that they lost their goods to worth N10 million.
They said that for them to eat now was tough due to lack of money and called on the government and individuals to help them to start their business again.
A provision store owner, Ndubuisi Nkwede and a electrical shop owner, Paul Okafor said that they lost goods worth over N11 million, saying that their source of livelihood has been destroyed by the fire.
They, therefore, appealed to the government for assistance.
Other shop owners and tenants who spoke with Oriental News said that they have lost everything they had to the fire and now living without anything as they appealed to the federal and state governments to come to their aid.