Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
The Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe has expressed grief and worry over incessant fuel tanker explosion leading to many deaths in Onitsha, Anambra State.
The monarch while commiserating with the victims of the two fire incidences in a statement described them as double tragedy within 24 hours which he said called for a serious concern.
“Both cases were as a result of tankers laden with petrol that lost control, then, crashing and spilling their contents that ignited fires. The first was at Upper Iweka which extended to Ochanja market, resulting in loss of lives and property. The second was recorded around Omagba area of Onitsha following similar manner.
“I share the grief of all those affected, and thank everyone, including President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Willie Obiano, my fellow traditional rulers, leaders in the public and private sectors, and a host of ordinary citizens, for their instant and massive expression of sympathy and solidarity.
“This is the third major petrol tanker fire in Onitsha since 2015. In May 2015, a tanker laden with petrol lost control and exploded in the same vicinity of the latest accident, killing about 60 persons.
“In February 2017, another tanker laden with petrol crashed into the Mobil Petrol Station at the DMGS Roundabout and the consequent fire destroyed numerous homes and offices though, thankfully, no life was lost. There have been other major fires in the markets that dot the city.
“In my annual Ofala address to the community, I spoke about pressures of urbanisation and unbridled commercialisation in the city, the need to debottleneck the road of traffic conundrum in the city. I also emphasised the need for enforcement of planning regulations to curb illegal roadside trading that impede both vehicular and human movement.
“I also spoke about the related issue of poor environmental sanitation that is choking the metropolitan city with garbage.
“I commend Governor Obiano for acting promptly to set up a panel of inquiry into the fire incident and pray that the remit of the panel should go beyond this specific event to address the fundamental causes of these disasters.
“It is my view that a holistic plan for broad-based tackling of the challenges of urbanisation and commercialisation which contribute to environmental pollution and degradation be evolved.
“An adequate fire service is a sine qua non for a bustling metropolitan city like Onitsha as well as other major towns in Anambra State. I sympathise with all persons affected by the fires, and thank all and sundry for their support and sympathy and I call on the State and Federal governments to save Onitsha from collapse as a homeland and leading centre,” Achebe stated.