Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
The founder of Pro-Value Humanity Foundation, Dr Obiora Okonkwo (Dikeora), has donated cash to the injured victims of Onitsha fuel tanker fire disaster in Onitsha, Anambra State.
Okonkwo, who donated an undisclosed sum of money to the injured victims when he visited them at Toronto Hospital at Upper Iweka where they were receiving treatment, had also offered to pay the medical bills of the patients but was told that the state government had taken care of the expenses.
He was received at the hospital by the Medical Director/Chief Executive Officer, Prince Dr Emeka Eze. Okonkwo commended the management of hospital for their care and prompt response to the emergency, treating patients without asking for money deposits.
Okonkwo also visited the Ochanja Market site of the disaster, where the fire destroyed billions of naira worth of property (plazas, shops and goods), telling the traders that he would provide an ambulance that would be stationed at the market for emergency purposes, and promising to support in any way to ensure that those who lost their wares to the fire would return to business.
“I have seen the unfortunate desert, but I still think that we have every reason to give glory to God, it could have been worse, considering the magnitude of the destruction and the accident that happened close to Toronto Hospital at Upper Iweka, which is about two kilometers away and caused havoc in Ochanja Market,” he said.
“The only thing here and message from my observation is that we need to fix this great city, Onitsha. Onitsha must be organised. This is one of the biggest markets in Africa. This is the greatest source of revenue in the state. The victims need amenities, need to be supported. Every structure built in a public environment need to have safety precautions, I have not seen any of them here.
“It is a mistake that has been made, it’s a human error; but moving forward, there is need for people who are responsible for this market to redesign this place and provide it with all it needs. We suffered causalities both as a group and as individuals. We have gone to the hospital and have seen those that were injured. A market like this should have a major fire station and major fire fighting equipment and the revenue this market provides is enough to provide it.
“I have come here in the name of my foundation which Pro-Value Humanity Foundation, and we have come here to see the extent of the damage and how we can bring succor for the people it affected. We have also met with the management of the market who also need support, and right here and now I can say that I will bring to the market management at least an ambulance. I know there had not been an ambulance in this place. The other intention we had, had been taken care of by other visitors who came earlier, and from our enquires I know that an ambulance is lacking.
“That accident could have been avoided. By my own assessment that accident was caused by bumps on the road… I, therefore, call on the state government to avoid further mishaps…
“I have also being briefed that a committee has been set up in the market to bring the list and names of all those that are affected. When that list comes up, through my foundation and myself, we will do what we can also to support those people who have lost their wares and property. We will join hands with other well meaning Anambrans and corporate groups to support these people.
“I share your pains, I share your grief and I can tell you that no matter the destruction we have seen here, no matter the losses we have observed here, there is still the hand of God in these incidents. The most important thing is life which is greater than wealth. With us on your side and God, you shall raise again. Be assured that all these structures would be rebuilt, to be stronger and better and I will participate actively,” Okonkwo assured.
The MD said that eight victims of the fire were brought to the hospital, while six were treated and discharged; two were still receiving treatment, with two corpses brought to the hospital and deposited at the morgue.
Two of the patients, Oluchukwu Ani and Blessing Egbugo, thanked Okonkwo for his gesture and prayed that God continues to bless and protect him as he helps those in need.