Yesterday, Wednesday 16th October 2019, the Onitsha business community and indeed the whole of Anambra state was thrown into grief and mourning as a result of the unquantifiable havoc caused by a fire incident ignited by a PMS-laden tanker.
The Tanker was said to have lost control and fell by the gutter-way spilling its content that travelled all the way to a major open market in Onitsha -Ochanja market leaving a gory tale of destruction to lives and properties in its trail.
We commiserate with all those who lost their family members as well as means of livelihood and pray that the good Lord would comfort us all in these very trying times.
It is pertinent to point out that the Upper Iweka axis of the Onitsha road network has come to be associated with recurrent tragic accidents leading to preventable loss of lives and property. This is due to the fact that there is a major population concentration in that axis due to various motor parks and markets located therein. Given the foregoing, we realize that attempts to prevent future reoccurrence of these tragedies might not yield the desired outcome unless certain actions are considered.
First, the State government should immediately prevail on the Federal Fire Service to locate fire fighting stations that are fitted with fully-functional fire-fighting vehicles for quick deployment when the occasion arises. This is because from Upper Iweka, various other markets line up that route up to the main market. The situation where the Onitsha business community has to depend on fire-fighting trucks from neighboring states to combat fire disaster is not charitable.
Second, the state government should consider restricting the movement of these tankers within the state. They can be allowed to move from 8pm till 5am daily. This will go a long way in the reduction of these tragedies as there will be fewer people on the road.
Third, given that most of these accidents are caused as a result of vehicular issues such as break failure, we call on the Federal Road Safety Corp and the Vehicle Inspection Office to come up with strategies for checks and certification of the road-worthiness of tankers and trailers on a regular basis at their various parks or business premises. This will go a long way to avert these sad and recurring occurrences on our roads.
Finally, we call on the Federal government to fast track the development of rail transportation networks throughout the country especially in the densely populated South East. Experts have repeatedly cautioned on the continued trucking of highly inflammable Petroleum products by road unlike what obtains in developed economies
Once again, we wish to commiserate with all those affected in one way or the other by this horrible event. We plead with the government (especially the agencies charged with disaster relief) and general public to reach out to the victims with all kinds of relief materials to offer them some succor. Compensation should be paid to the victims or their dependents to enable carry on with their livelihood.
Our prayer goes out to you all.