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Anambra market inferno: Panel submits report, wants chemical explosives business banned

Anambra market inferno: Panel submits report, wants chemical explosives business banned

Anambra State government has been urged to ban chemicals of explosive, corrosive and inflammable nature in all markets in the state, except on adequate monitoring and compliance.

The panel of inquiry committee of the November 8, 2022 explosion and fire incident at Head Bridge Market, Onitsha, made its recommendations in an 11-Page Report on the cause of the inferno.

The report was submitted by Peter Okala and Frank Udemadu, chairman and secretary, respectively, alongside other seven committee members to the state government on Friday through Emeka Orji, chairman of Onitsha South Local Government Area of the state.

Members of the committee set up on June 8, 2023, are long-time traders in the market.

“Our investigations revealed that the explosion was from chemicals sold in the market in-between three unions/lines, Ogbogwu International, P.S. Union and Chain Saw and Allied Unions, and not a bomb blast as assumed.

“The blast was assumed to be a bomb explosion which has the tendency of causing security breaches among Nigerian ethnicities, of which our youths had already strategised attack on non-indigenes,” they stated.

According to them, 15 noted traders, who have spent many years doing business in the market were interviewed to enrich the committee report on the hard chemicals incident, before the holistic report was turned written.

In their recommendations, they urged the state government to provide firefighting equipment and fire trucks stationed at Head Bridge markets and others.

“There is no firefighting truck and equipment in the whole of Head Bridge Market. The ones we have in Onitsha and its environs are not in proper working condition; this is an anathema and unprecedented.

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“More so, the response by the Anambra State Fire Service wasn’t prompt. Asaba Fire Service, Delta State, was the first to answer our call,” they added.

They added that the traders who lost goods worth hundreds of millions of naira, the dead and injured still hospitalised be compensated by the state government.

“The affected members paid N50,000 each, totalling N1.6 million to the head bridge market leadership, who claimed that the money was given to the government officials in Awka for approval to enable the traders to rebuild their shops be refunded.

“To organise workshops and seminars for members of the markets in the state for sensitisation, also each line in the market be made to provide a standing fire extinguisher to tackle cases of fire outbreaks.

“Encouragement of genuine insurance companies for the traders to take up life and goods insurance premium against loss, amongst others,” they added.

Emeka Orji, chairman of Onitsha South Local Government Area of the state, promised to look into the report and thanked the panel committee for a job well done.

“I am happy. I must promise the committee that what I started, I must finish. The recommendations will be addressed passionately,” he said.