By Chimobi Nwiwu, Ugochukwu Alaribe& Ochuko Akuopha
Residents of Onitsha, Anambra State are counting their losses in last Friday’s tanker explosion, which resulted in the loss of properties worth billions of naira.
The incident happened at Upper Iweka area of Onitsha Owerri Road, when the tanker laden with petrol, also known as Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, fell and exploded.
Properties worth billions of naira at both sides of the road including Ezeiweka junction, Awada, Obodoukwu Road in Okpoko and their environs were destroyed.
When Sunday Vanguard visited the scene, many shop owners were seen lamenting the loss of their goods while others made efforts to salvage the items they could.
Men of the fire service both from Anambra and Delta states arrived at the scene, but couldn’t do much to save the situation.
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More than five different story buildings where shoe manufacturers are located were burnt down while provision stores and show factories among others were destroyed.
Angry residents and traders bemoaned the incident, attributing it to what they called insensitivity on the part of government. They said the incident could have been avoided if government had fixed a failed portion of the road where the explosion occurred.
A popular newspaper vendor, Mrs. Ngozi Odunze, lost her chairs, tables and umbrella while vehicles parked at Ideato Park, tricycles, and shoe warehouses among others were burnt to ashes.
Mr. Christian Obod and Okechukwu Okoli, who lost shoe warehouses, said they may not have any option but to relocate to their villages unless the government comes to their aid.
Similarly, over 10 motorists, yesterday, escaped death as a diesel laden tanker exploded at a filling station along Aba Road, Umuahia.
The situation caused a stampede as many motorists abandoned their vehicles and scampered to safety.
Staff of the filling station and passersby attempted to use fire extinguishers to quench the fire, but they didn’t succeed.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that the tanker was discharging diesel at the petrol station when the fire was noticed under the truck.
Firefighters were seen trying to control the fire from spreading to surrounding buildings.
As of press time, the fire was still raging. Director of Abia State Fire Service,Mr. Arua Nnanna, was yet to respond to calls made to his mobile number.
Meanwhile, Urhobo Progress Union, UPU, has commiserated with bereaved families in last Thursday’s fuel tanker explosion that wreaked havoc in Ohoro Community of Uwheru kingdom, in Ughelli North Local Government Area , Delta State.
Two persons were reportedly killed in the explosion, which also destroyed buildings and other properties worth millions of naira in the community.
Reacting to the incident, UPU in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Abel Oshevire, said: “UPU extends its sincere condolences to the bereaved families and conveys its sympathy to those who sustained injuries, and those who lost their properties including residences to the tragic fire.
“We are, however, grateful to God for the protection of lives all through the period of the inferno, which started in the early hours of the day, while residents were asleep.
“It is a great testimony to God’s mercy and goodness that the minimal loss of lives, despite the widespread fire that destroyed over 25 buildings, shops, goods, and other structures in the community.
“We also appeal to private and public-spirited individuals and organisations to come to the assistance of our people at Ohoro to cover for their loss, especially their homes and means of livelihood destroyed by the fire.
“We call for proactive measures to prevent such “[natural disasters,’’ especially at places known to be temporary stops for fuel and gas tankers moving across the state and beyond.”