Onitsha fire: Documentation of victims now to hold in their shops
*donates land for Fed Fire service station
*ordered 10 new Fire engines
*120 new officers
From Chuks Moses, Awka
The cracked record has started playing, again, in Anambra State, just as it does in most of the States when there is a fire disaster. Following the fire disasters that ravaged the Ochanja Market in Onitsha and Agulu, the State Government has ordered 10 fire engines for the helpless State Fire Service.
It has also ordered the recruitment of 120 officers, among others to boost the Service.
But not all Anambra State indigenes are impressed at what they describe as an old tune of motion without movement.
Like in Anambra, most States can not boast of modern fire engines. A whole State often times does not have more than two fire engines, depending on the Federal Fire Service, that is equally ill-equipped.
Anger at the slow response of this set of First responders has often led to attacks on them. It happened in the recent Ochanja Market disaster.
In Anambra, victims of previous fire disasters recall that similar promises by the state government came to nought.
Recall that the governor made similar promises when petrol fire from a filling station occurred opposite the Dennis Memorial Grammar School, Onitsha in 2017. Then, he ordered the immediate recruitment of additional one hundred (100) new fire officers and some fire engines.
One victim of an earlier fire incident at Amawbia roundabout new the Governor’s Lodge, Chikaodili Nwaeme, whose kiosk was burnt with all her wares lamented that the state government collected details of affected traders for compensation but nothing came out of it; at least not for her and others she knows.
Meanwhile, in a bid to forestall a repeat failure of the state fire department, Governor Willie Obianor donated a fire engine to the Ochanja central market and ordered the creation of motorable access roads in the market. The directive, which was to take immediate effect, a reputable contractor to immediately repair or create access roads within the market where none exists presently.
In its efforts to get the state fire department be more responsive to the challenges of its mandate, especially as the dry and Yuletide seasons approach, Gov Obiano announced ordering ten (10) new fire engines from a local vehicle manufacturing company, Innoson.
He equally ordered the employment of one hundred and twenty (120) additional personnel for the state fire service.
Meantime, the documentation and profiling of victims of last Wednesday’s petrol tanker fire incidents at two locations in Onitsha, Anambra state will now hold in their shops at the Ochanja Main market, a state government statement by Mr Emeka Ozumba, the deputy chief press secretary to the Governor said.
The exercise was earlier schedule for the Ekwueme Square in Awka but had to be rescheduled for a fraud-proof and less cumbersome exercise to identify real shop owners
Also, since more sympathizers were still visiting victims at the scenes, it was considered “abnormal for anyone to come to commiserate with them either in cash or kind without meeting anyone on ground” in the shops, a source added.
The latest directive has also been amplified by a communique issued after a meeting between government officials and executive members of the Ochanja Main market union on Friday, October 18, 2019 at the Governor’s L Lodge, Awka.
Also, the state government has mapped out four plots of land at Awka for the establishment of a Federal Fire Service station. This was part of the new efforts by the embarrassed state government to checkmate the abysmal failure of its own fire service.
The Secretary of the Ochanja Main market traders association, Mr Peter Chibuike, who read out the communique said that the state government’s decision to move the documentation exercise to the market, came after diligent consultations with executives of the market union and other stakeholders.
The state government has also set up a 10-man committee consisting of five members of state executive council and five members of the Ochanja central market union executives to visit the market and interface directly with all persons affected by the unfortunate incident so as to evaluate damages, identify actual victims and advise government on compensations and other necessary actions.