By Tony Nyong
UYO â€” Barely few weeks to Christmas, about 18 people, mostly residents of 65, Ikot Ekpene Road in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, are receiving treatment in various hospi-tals following different degrees of burns suffered when a petrol tanker rammed into some buildings and caught fire.
Property worth more than N300 million were destroyed by the inferno. The incidentÂ occured while most of the victims were asleep in the wee hours of Sunday as a result ofÂ the inability of theÂ driver of the petrol tanker, with number plate CR XA 227 DUK, to make a U-turn. He hit an electric pole in front of some shops, causing a spark that triggered the fire.
Governor GodswillÂ Akpa-bio, who visited the scene of the disaster, commiserated with the victims and their families over the unfortunate incident.
Akpabio, who described the incident as a disaster of high magnitude and a pathetic one, attributed the incident to the carelessness of the driver.
He thanked the state Fire Service for bringing the incident under control and pledged the state govern-ment’s readiness to mitigate the losses suffered by the victims.
The governor promised to give the owner of the vehicle with number plate, AE 870 TTU, another one andÂ settle medical expenses incurred by the victims to alleviate their sufferings.
Akpabio directed the Ministry of Works and Transport to ensure the continuation of on-going re-surfacing of the road and Ministry of Environment to clear the debris to allow for free flow of traffic along the road.
He later visited Lifecare Clinic, Uyo and St. Lukeâ€™s General Hospital, Anua, to sympathise with the fire victims. On the spot, he offered financial assistance to some of the victims.
The state Director of Akwa Ibom Fire Service, Gwendolen S. W. Ukpe, thanked the governor for the visit and appealed to him to provide more fire fighting vehicles and employ more fire fighters to be able to curb any fire incident in the state.
In an interview, the Divisional Commander of the state Fire Service, Sylvester A. Bassey, said one officer in his command was burnt by the fire, though his command saved property worth about N2.5 billion.