Thursday, 16 February 2017

Obiano Pledges Support to Victims of Onitsha fire Incident


By James Eze (eziokwubundu@gmail.com)


The government of Anambra State shall assist the 15 families that were displaced by the petrol tanker fire incident that took place at the DMGS Roundabout in Onitsha yesterday by paying their rent in new residential buildings in the vicinity of their burnt residences for one year to help them find their footing in life again.

The Governor of Anambra State made this declaration during his tour of the scene of the fire outbreak on Thursday after cutting short his participation in the National Economic Council meeting in Abuja upon hearing of the fire incident which caused extensive damage in the vicinity around the famous Denis Memorial Grammar School (DMGS), Onitsha.

Governor Obiano who stormed the scene straight from the airport was visibly worried by the scope of observable damage done by the fire also revealed that it was strange that the state recorded five different fire incidents at almost the same time in one day. He listed the locations as a spot near UNIZIK, Ugwu Akpati Ozu in Nnewi, St Michaels in Nimo, a location in Okpuno Awka and the DMGS Roundabout in Onitsha.

Said he, “What I will do about this incident is that first, I will set up a committee with the assistance of the Obi of Onitsha to look into the incident and establish the number of families affected by the fire. Preliminary reports show that 15 families were displaced.

But we must find out who they are. Anambra State government will assist the displaced families to pick up the pieces of their lives. We shall resettle them in other houses in this neighbourhood again. We shall pay their rent for one year to get them started.”

Recalling how he got news of the incident Governor Obiano said, “about 8pm yesterday, when I was about to go into the Governors’ Forum in Abuja, I was informed that there were fire incidents in five different locations in Anambra State.

I was very worried that five fire incidents were going on almost at the same time in one state. They started between 7 and 8.30pm. The Fire Service in the state has 12 trucks but as at yesterday only 8 were in good working condition.

They spread themselves in five locations. One from Okpoko and another one from Main Market came here almost 30 minutes after the fire started and began to fight the fire here before I called for the support of the Fire Station on the Bridgehead in Delta State because I was worried by the tone of the alarm that was raised.”

Governor Obiano disclosed that he was truly worried by the way the story of the Onitsha fire was told. “From the way they sounded, I didn’t know that I would meet one building standing here. They told me that the whole of this place was on fire and that very soon it would get to DMGS. So, I called for assistance from the Fire Service in Delta and I am very happy that they responded.

We thank God that we did not lose any life in all the five fire incidents,” he declared.
The Governor used the opportunity to announce that the state had acquired three special Fire-fighting Trucks with a capacity to store 10,000 litres water, 750 litres of foam and 75kg of powder. One of the trucks would be permanently stationed in Onitsha Main Market, one in Nnewi and one in Awka. 

He also announced that going forward the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) in the state would impound any vehicle coming into Anambra State that does not have good tyres in order to ensure safety on the roads in the state and further pointed out that in the coming weeks, safety barriers would be erected on the three flyovers in Awka to prevent long haulage trucks from climbing them and either falling off them or breaking down atop the bridges.
The Governor flayed the growing tendency in many Nigerians to take photographs of disasters in total disregard of their own personal safety. Said he; “I learnt that while the fire was blazing here last night, some people were busy taking photographs of the inferno so that they would post them online. That was dangerous. If the petrol tank had exploded while they were taking those pictures, the body count would have been unimaginable. So, next time, if you are not helping to fight a fire, please, please, please; run, run, run for your dear life!”
According to him, preliminary inquiries had revealed that some of the fire outbreaks were caused by bush burning. “I wish to appeal to the Igwes and Presidents General of the various town unions to ensure that the practice of burning bushes is stopped in their domain. So, we outlaw bush burning in Anambra State with immediate effect,” he further announced.

Governor Obiano expressed gratitude to God that no life was lost in the five fire incidents that happened simultaneously in the state, expressing optimism that the special committee that he planned to set on the development would be able to advise him on what he should so differently going forward. He also expressed his gratitude to the governor of Delta State, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa from whose domain the fire fighters had come to support the fire teams from Okpoko and Main Market in a combined effort that put out the fire to forestall a further spread to other buildings in the locality.
He was accompanied on tour of the fire scene by the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, the State Commissioner of Police and the members of his cabinet.

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