By Chimaobi Nwaiwu – Nnewi
Another tanker fire accident early hours of Friday occurred at Onitsha Enugu expressway area of Bessoy Filling Station Onitsha Anambra State, destroying over three caterpillars, 30 vehicles in different mechanic, electrical, and spraying workshops inside Omagba Phase II area of Onitsha, with no loss of lives.
However, a statement from the Anambra State Police command attributed the fire incident to a collision between the fuel tanker and a truck laden with planks, according to the police the incident was said to have happened at about 3,26 am Friday morning.
According to the Police statement made available by the Anambra State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Haruna Mohammed,
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“Today 18/10/2019 at about 03:26 am, a trailer loaded with petroleum product at Omogba area along Enugu-Onitsha Expressway, collided with a truck and ignited fire burning three Caterpillars, three cars and a truck laden with planks.
“Police patrol teams led by the Area Commander Onitsha, rushed to the scene and cordoned off the Area to prevent hoodlums from taking advantage of the situation to loot and fire service department was equally contacted which responded promptly and put off the fire before it becomes intractable.
“Consequently, the Commissioner of Police, CP John B.Abang, has ordered for a discreet investigation to ascertain circumstances surrounding the incident. Meanwhile, no loss of lives and obstruction was cleared to enable free flow of traffic.
“A general assessment of the damage caused by the inferno within Omagba further revealed that a total of 22 vehicles parked in mechanic workshops and along with Udodi street Omagba phase 2 were burnt, while eight houses were also torched in the fire incident in addition to those burnt along Onitsha/Enugu expressway.”
However, when Vanguard invested the scenes of the fire incident, some of the residents of the area said the incident started at about 2am Friday morning, adding that the accident happened like that of Upper Iweka on Wednesday, in which the fuel tanker disengaged from truck carrying it and fell on the road spreading through water channels on both sides of the expressway, and then into Omagba phase II area of Onitsha.
It was a pathetic sight when Vanguard visited the scene of the incident, as the affected people counted their losses in workshops, machines tools, goods for sale, materials for work and cash they left in their shops for purchase of materials for works and goods for sales.
As at the time of filing this report, the owners of the two caterpillars parked along the Bessoy Filling Station side of the expressway are yet to be identified, but a 608 truck carrying planks suspected to have been trapped by the fire accident was seen by Saturday Vanguard burnt beyond repairs with some of the planks touched by the fire.
According to some residents of the place who spoke with Vanguard, the spilled fuel was said to have spread through the water channels on both sides the Onitsha Enugu expressway, and entered through the underground water channels that connects Omagba Phase II area of the expressway, from where it caught light and spread to the workshops and people’s houses located in the place to do the damages.
One of the victims Mr Sunny Chigbo and Managing Director of Udoka Automobile workshop, who lives at Afor Nkpor said he was called on phone at about 2.10 am Friday morning and by the time he arrived at the shop everything in the shop including seven cars have been destroyed beyond repairs by the fire, adding that he lost about N15 million on cars, equipment, machines and goods.
It was a pathetic sight at John Odigwe a car upholstery shop where finished work, three machines, assorted car upholstery of Tayoya highlander, Pick Up Hilus vans and other new millennium cars were reduced to rubbles, According to some of his neighbours, a call was made to his father in law that everything in his workshop got burnt and the man was said to have slumped and died immediately he got the information, Mr Odige was said to have left immediately to his in-laws place in the village when Vanguard to visited.
Other victims of the fire incident were Nwaorah Matthew, Chizoba Ogadinma, Ebuka Uzoukwu Chiedu Edeh and Chukwuemeka Arunwelu, mechanic, panel bitter, car mechanic, blacksmith and engine oil trader, respectively lost a total of about N5 million naira in machines, goods, fridge, generators and work tools.
Five other compounds could not be accessed but Vanguard observed through the gates that over 10 cars were burnt by the fire while other household materials were destroyed, there was no adult to speak with newsmen at the compounds.
Onyeka Nwosu, another mechanic within the area had his shop completely burnt down with his machines and tools reduced to rubbles, just as the sum of N670,000 he wanted to use to buy car engine and materials for his customers, he put his total loss to N3 million.
Another victim Mr David Ogbaka, managing Director of Akwara Car Spraying Workshop also lost nine vehicles including two Counter Vans, three buses and four cars brought by his customers for painting, adding that he lost three spraying machines, two leister generators a full loaded car paint shop to the fire incident, putting his total loss to N80 million.
Jerome Okeke another mechanic lost a gulf car, materials and machines and workshop stuffed with materials and motor parts, and put his loss to N3.5 million while his colleague Anthony Oyi, a Japanese car mechanic lost a car, materials, machines tools generator, giving his estimated total loss to N1.5 million.