Cars, goods worth millions razed, as fire devastates Ebonyi mechanic village
From Emmanuel Uzor, Abakaliki
On Thursday, January 5, Sunday Nworie left his village where he had celebrated the Christmas and New Year holidays and returned to Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital. He was full of hope that he would start the New Year on a profitable note.
But that was not to be. When he came into Abalaliki, little did he know that disaster was lurking in the corner.
Sadly, the beginning of the year quickly turned out to be the beginning of his nightmares, as all the wares he had in his shop were consumed in an early morning fire that engulfed the Abakaliki
Though Sunday was not the only victim of the fire disaster, his case was very pathetic because he had just started his own business after he had completed his apprenticeship. He said he used all his savings, including the seed money given to him by his boss along with money he borrowed to set up the business with high hope of selling and making profit to repay the money.
The early morning fire destroyed about eight cars and motor spare parts valued at over N25 million at the mechanic village in the Ebonyi State capital.
It was gathered that the inferno, which started at about 1am would have engulfed the entire mechanic site if not for the quick intervention of the state fire service.
The scene of the fire incident was still covered with smoke billowing from cars, tyres and other spare parts burnt in some of the affected workshops, even as the owners and sympathisers stood in clusters, watching helplessly.
Sunday Nworie, who could not control his tears, informed that the fire started from a nearby workshop where apprentices might have forgotten to extinguish the burning logs of wood they used in refurbishing car shock absorbers.
He said he just used all his life time savings to stock the shop few days before going on Christmas and New Year holidays. He regretted that everything he had laboured for in his entire life had been reduced to rubble in the devastating inferno.
But the owner of the workshop from where Sunday alleged the fire started from, Mr. Livinus Nwadume, denied the allegation. He pointed out that he did not burn firewood to repair damaged car parts.
Mr. Nwadume described the incident as unfortunate, claiming that he lost tyres and other spare parts worth thousands of naira in the inferno. He also absolved his apprentices of being responsible for the fire.
Another person, who owned a workshop where five cars were destroyed, Mr. George Brother, said he had informed the owners about the damage. He called on the government to expand the mechanic village to enable those who sold car parts with fire to have enough space to operate.
He lamented that the fire incident had set them back in the New Year and called on the state governor, Chief David Umahi, to come to the aid of the victims by helping them rebuild their shops and also assist in restocking them to enable them feed their families.
Chairman of the mechanic section, Mr. Erasmus Nwaojiji, said his management committee had done all it could to enforce the decongestion and removal of inflammable materials at the site to no avail.
Nwaojiji commended the state fire service for its prompt intervention. He appealed to the state government to assist the victims to enable them start life again.
Meanwhile in his message to the victims of the fire disaster, the Chairman of PDP in the South-east zone, Chief Austin Umahi, described the incident as a national calamity and sympathised with those that lost goods in the inferno. He assured that the state government would look into the incident and take necessary action.
He described Governor Umahi as a man with human sympathy, saying the governor would look
into the incident and find possible ways of helping the victims to move on with life.