Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
An articulated tanker laden with 33,000 liters of petrol crashed into Nkwo Ogidi market, Idemili North LGA, bursting into flames and razing down about 17 shops with goods worth millions of naira.
An eye witness Chukwudi Arinze told Daily Sun that the vehicle at about 11 am was climbing a steep section of the Chinua Achebe bypass from the expressway through the International Building Materials Market, but could not get to the Ugwunwasike roundabout before the vehicle started rolling backwards.
The source said that when the tanker fell into the front shops of the market, the contents spilled onto the adjoining routes behind the market, where people began to scoop fuel from the scene shortly before the tanker exploded into flames.
Ogbuli Oby, a Fire Officer from the State Fire Service, said that his team responded immediately with the first fire truck stationed at the nearby building material market, also calling for reinforcement from Onitsha Main market and Okpoko but the entire contents from the 3 trucks were dispensed while the fire kept on raging.
Line Chairman of the market, Valentine Nwabufo Okonkwo said he received a distress call over the incident but when he got to the market, thick billows of smoke has already covered the entire area. He said 17 shops were destroyed completely while goods stocked by the owners who deal on different products have been damaged. He said they are still taking stock and will assess the extent of damage when the fire is finally put off.
Transition Council Chairman of Idemili North LGA, Raphael Asha Nnabuife while lamenting the level of damages caused by the incident thanked God that no life was lost. He also expressed gratitude to the DPO Ogidi Police Division, CSP Mark Ijarafu and the men of the state fire service whom he noted that if not for their combined efforts, the fire would have escalated into other shops, adjoining buildings and offices within the area. The Council Chairman also cautioned drivers on the need to ensure that their vehicles were in top shape at all times attributing the cause of the crash to possible brake issue.
One of the victims of the fire, Mrs Miko Theresa said everything in her two shops stocked with computer materials were razed to ashes. She appealed to the state government to come to their aid.