LAMENTATIONS, BLAMES AND CONSOLATIONS AS VICTIMS OF OCHANJA MARKET CONTINUE COUNTING THEIR LOSES
Traders and other victims of the fire incident at Ochanja Market, Onitsha Anambra State have blamed lackadaisical attitude and incompetence on the part of relevant government agencies as the major cause of the outbreak.
To this end, they are calling on the government to be pro-active and reposition the state fire service to enable the agency respond effectively to emergency situations.
When Radio Nigeria visited the market, traders and some other sympathizers were seen consoling their friends, colleagues, neighbours and relations who lost shops, houses and other valuables to the inferno.
Shops, were razed, buildings burnt, while goods and wares were damaged, as the fire continued to rage in some of the buildings inside the ochanja market, even a day after the initial fire.
Agony and pains filled the entire atmosphere with helplessness clearly written on their faces.
The people, who were visibly angry over the whole situation narrated that after the tanker fell at Upper Iweka and petrol spilled through the drainage channel down to Ochanja Market, it lasted several hours before it caught fire, a development they said would have been averted if the fire servicemen had responded promptly.
The fire caught some of the traders, who claimed they were not even aware that a tanker fell in the area.
One of them, who did not mention his name, expressed disappointment over the incident and blamed it on a recklessness on the part of the tanker driver and insensitivity on the part of relevant agencies.
Some of the traders whose shops were not affected claimed that some of their neighbours, including two sales girls and one man, were allegedly burnt to death by the fire disaster.
Another respondent, Prince Edy Okosi, described the unavailability of the state fire service as very agonising and heartbreaking.
However, business activities had already resumed at the Upper Iweka axis where the tragedy struck as transporters, commuters and artisans were already engaging their transactions amidst tears and sorrow.
Radio Nigeria contacted the Commander, Federal Road Safety Corps in Anambra State, Mr. Andrew Kumapayi, who blamed the fire on the use of substandard materials to fabricate heavy duty tankers by some of the owners.
Mr. Kumapayi noted that though the total casualty number was not yet ascertained, he stated that stringent measures would be put in place without further delay to forestall future occurrence.
As at the time of filing this report, security agencies were strategically positioned within the entire area while government representatives and private individuals trooped in to condone with the victims.
Our Correspondent, who visited the scene of the accident at the Upper Iweka axis and Ochanja Market reports that the ragging fire, which started in the afternoon on Wednesday was still on in some buildings and shops in the market as at the time of filling this report on Thursday afternoon.