The Sun News

Outrage over losses in Onitsha fuel fire

From David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi and Aloysius Attah, Onitsha

Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State, yesterday, ordered the relocation of filling stations constructed around residential buildings and markets.

Obiano gave the order at the scene of a fire incident which destroyed 13 buildings, 10 vehicles and other valuables worth millions of naira on Upper New Market Road, Onitsha, on Wednesday night.

The governor, who cut short his trip to Abuja to visit the scene, expressed worry over increasing cases of fire incidents in the state.

“At about 8 p.m. on Wednesday when I was about to retire after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, I was called and briefed about fire incidents in five locations in the state.

“The fire incidents occurred in Nnewi, Nimo, Okpuno, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka and Onitsha and all started almost at the same time.

“It is only in Onitsha that we had an extensive damage of property where about 15 families were displaced, but no death was recorded in all.”

He said a committee would be set up to find out the remote causes of these fire incidents and what government could do differently to assist the victims.

“We are going to find out whether these filling stations will remain because Onitsha has grown and the gas stations are now in the midst of residential buildings.’’

The governor said the committee, in collaboration with the Obi of Onitsha, Alfred Achebe, would determine how the affected 15 families would be resettled around the area for a year.

Bishop on the Niger, Rt. Rev. Owen Nwokolo has blamed the Onitsha fire incident on  the state government and town planners.

He said in the first place, if there was adequate town planning, it would have ensured that filling stations are not sited near residential areas because  the possibility of fire outbreak is always there.

The bishop advised government and its various agencies to ensure that proper planning is done so that things that can harm people should not be sited near residential areas.

Bishop Nwokolo, who visited the scene of the  fire incident  with over 30 senior Anglican priests, was in tears.

He described the incident as a great loss that came at a time the country is in recession, saying for people to lose their property at this time is difficult to accept and sad.

“We call on the government, emergency services and all well meaning Nigerians to come to the aid of the victims. “Not just saying sorry to them, they need to recover a bit of what they have lost, that is how to show true love and concern,” he said.

Meanwhile, residents of Otakpo Layout, 3-3 Onitsha, yesterday, staged a peaceful protest at the office of the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) over what they called long period of continued blackout, outrageous billings and refusal to avail residents with prepaid metres.

The residents, who trooped out in their thousands, caused traffic snarl along the Onitsha Federal Housing, Trans Nkisi Layout, Nkwele Ezunaka road.

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