• Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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BusinessDay

Onne Road fuel inferno: Casual negligence caused the disaster – sympathizers

Onne Road fuel inferno: Casual negligence caused the disaster – sympathizers

…As Fubara mourns, sets up committee

…Casualty rate not yet known

The number of persons burnt to death at the tanker fuel inferno on Onne Eleme Road near Port Harcourt, Rivers State, is yet to be established. The state government has set up a committee to find out, but sympathizers trooping to the ugly scene have put the disaster down to what they called “casual negligence.”

The immediate cause is that a truck allegedly hit a tanker loaded with premium motor spirit (PMS) which led to spilling of fuel and sparks that caused fire.

What sympathizers however, see as remote cause is the way that the segment of the East West Road has been allowed to decay since the days of Goodluck Jonathan, with half-hearted interventions.

The result is said to be huge traffic chaos from Akpajo to Onne Trailer Park on the way to Uyo in Akwa Ibom State. Now, the latest construction work on the road without traffic management attention has continued to create havoc on a road that was already jampacked.

Concerned individuals have since called for a port road management approach to avoid Onne Road becoming what Apapa in Lagos was. Calls have been made for two trailer parks at both ends of Onne Road so that only trucks ready to load at the ports can move into Onne Road.

An eye witness who gave his name as Ikechukwu Amaechi told BusinessDay that the scene before him was nothing but a disaster of unimaginable magnitude at the segment between the Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals and Aleto Bridge area of East-West Road.

He said that there was an explosion from an accidented petrol tanker which leaked petrol on the long stretch. This, as he put it, wrecked many lives and vehicles.

“The explosion caught scores of vehicles, private cars, commercial buses, trucks and an uncountable number of persons were caught in the inferno and burnt to ashes.

“Maybe, the Federal Government will now instruct the contractor handling the N33bn reconstruction of that axis of the road to incorporate a clear traffic control mechanism as part of their services on that jampacked road while reconstruction lasts or allow Nigerians to perish and roast on the road.

Governor Fubara intervenes:

Governor Sim Fubara of Rivers State has visited the scene and described it as very unfortunate which burnt up motorists and commuters beyond recognition. A woman was seen burnt on the steering in a Jeep.

Fubara expressed sadness at the gory sights that he saw when he visited the scene. He was accompanied by the State Commissioner of Police, Olatunji Disu, and the State Commissioner for Energy and Natural Resources, Uchechukwu Nwafor, Saturday morning.

The governor explained that he got a call from the Managing Director of Indorama Petrochemical and Fertiliser Company Limited in Eleme Local Government Area, informing him of the incident.

At the news of the incident, Governor Fubara stated that he immediately routed a call to the security agencies and instructed that they visit the scene to take charge of the security of the area to avoid escalation of the situation.

“And from what we are seeing this morning, it was not a pleasant case. We recorded a huge number of vehicles being destroyed and lives lost.”

Governor Fubara explained that he had already requested the relevant government agencies to provide him a detailed account of their findings to enable the State Government take appropriate decisions and actions to significantly remedy the situation and reduce the negative impact on the affected people. He said what happened was not the fault of most of the victims.

“We all know the situation of this road. It is really unfortunate. Most of our people, when plying this road, should ply it with caution.

“I believe very strongly that this situation would have been avoidable, if the motorists had behaved properly. But it is late already. The damage has happened. This is the situation we have found ourselves. We will see how we can control the aftermath,” he added.