Onitsha Fire: Obiano Promises Compensation, to Revamp Fire Service
By Ufuoma Egbamuno
Anambra governor Willie Obiano has promised to support victims of Wednesday’s fire incident which killed about 4 persons and destroyed shops and residential houses at Onitsha.
Correspondent Kenechukwu Ofomah reports that Governor Obiano made this promise when he visited the scene of the incident at the Upper Iweka area of Onitsha.
A yet to be identified woman and her baby caught up by the inferno and burnt beyond recognition were amongst victims of the fire incident at the Ochanja Market, Onitsha. Several buildings and lock-up shops with properties worth millions were also destroyed.
“We are really saddened by this incident and I sympathize with everybody that would have lost his ware or shop or lost lives in this incident,” Obiano said.
“We have set aside some funds to be able to support this crises, I want you to believe in your government, we are working hard to ensure that we have a free Christmas, this will not dampen our spirit,” the governor added.
He also promised to revamp the fire service in the area as well as set up a Panel of Inquiry to look into fire incident. The Anambra governor noted that the panel will headed by the Deputy Governor of the state, Dr Nkem Okeke, will commence enumeration of the affected shops and property on Friday. According to the governor this will enable government provide financial support to the affected persons and also take proactive measures to prevent a recurrence of such disaster. He urged the victims to cooperate with the panel so that compensation can be paid for Christmas.
Hear him: “The technical committee of this panel will visit this place. I encourage everybody to be your brother’s keeper in this kind of moment and time, and when the technical committee come down here tomorrow (Friday) to begin their assessment, please cooperate with them.”
“We will not tolerate despite the incident any form of harassment of the government officials that will be coming down to do this work,” Governor Obiano warned. “If you cooperate with them, this will be very easy and we will be able to give people compensation before Christmas.”
From the accident scene, the governor visited the State Fire Service Headquarters in Awka. The governor insisted that the visit was to see how government can support them to respond better to emergencies.
“We are going to revamp the fire service arrangement around this area one more time and see what else we can do,” the Anambra governor promised.
The fire, which began at about 1pm on Wednesday, was caused by a truck loaded with petroleum product, which lost control at Upper Iweka, along Enugu-Onitsha Expressway, Onitsha and crashed inside a pavement in between the expressway spilling its contents resulting in the inferno that claimed lives and destroyed property.
Meanwhile, when Nigeria Info visited the scene on Thursday, some shops some shops were still on fire as no presence of the fire service.
Correspondent Uzoma Nlemibe who was at the scene reports that about 40 buildings with over 500 lock-up shops were razed in the fire.
In a related development, Anambra State Commissioner of Police, John Abang visited the scene for on the spot assessment and appealed to the residents to remain calm. Police patrol teams have cordoned off the area to prevent hoodlums from taking advantage to loot.
Additional reports by Kenechukwu Ofomah, Uzoma Nlemibe and Philip Newlih