Anambra: Another fire disaster averted

Ejike Anyaduba

Anambra state fire service averted what would have become another disaster too soon.
Another fuel laden truck tumbled somewhere around Bessoy filling station, close to Omagba phase 11 at about this morning and ignited an inferno.

But the Anambra state Fire Service was on hand to nip off the blazing fire and saved the people from nurturing yet another sense of victimhood.

Their response to the emergency was not any different from what they tried doing at the Ochanja inferno but were not lucky. The crowd at both scenes of the accidents reacted differently.

While the crowd at Ochanja scene was emotional and did not allow the men of the fire service to work those at scene of the second accident were more matured.

Perhaps the accidents offered different scenarios.  While the Ochanja incident was in the day time and within the market environment the second incident happened outside a market and at an ungodly hour of the morning.

While it is the prayer of everybody against  a repeat of the Ochanja incident, it is important that mob action should be avoided always.
It is a fact  that those who debarred the fire trucks from Delta, Anambra and the privately owned GUO's from gaining access into the scene of the inferno staked no claim in the business in peril. At best they were there for their selfish interests.

Though this is no time for apportioning blame or pointing accusing fingers, it is meet that the frequency of tanker accidents in the country should be looked into. It is also important to keep in perspective the attitude of a crowd at emergencies. This is because a good number turn up for purely selfish purposes.

I had an accident once and in my confused state, offered money to a "sympathizer" to procure a recharge card for me. He took a long walk. Some had worse experience.

The Ochanja fire incident was not different. Most of those who prevented the fire trucks and destroyed GUO's were not traders themselves. They were men out to gratify certain interests.

It would seem proper to cast blame on the government and sundry other factors when a disaster such as the Ochanja's happens, but it is not always the case. The government has a case as were the tankers and their drivers. Has anybody thought of the quality of the tankers and the drivers who ply our roads.

A major player in the downstream industry has revealed that the use of local manhole in some of this tankers makes for easier spillage once an accident occurs. He may be right, but he has not told the whole story. The age and dispositions of the tanker drivers are equally culpable in this ugly development.

Before now, people of certain age( middle and slightly older)were the drivers of tankers and big lorries. They applied maturity that comes with age while plying their trade. They were not road hogs. They neither smoked nor drank on the wheel. They spurned dangerous overtaking. The avoided road rage and comported themselves on the highway. Windows of their vehicles were neither wound up nor tinted to provide them a safe haven to do drugs on the wheel.
It is fairly right to argue that most young truck drivers of today are direct opposite of drivers of the old.  They don't care a hoot and are insensitive to the combustible material in their care. With their attitude to work it does not seem an end is in sight for the frequent accidents unless there is conscious effort to sanitize the trade.

While commiserating with the victims of the Ochanja fire incident, the member representing Idemili North and South federal constituency in the National Assembly, Hon. Ifeanyichukwu Ibezi promised to see how the House could use  its legislative authority to regulate the movement of trucks within the country. It is hoped that such legislation will deal with the factors militating against the running of this service among them the recklessness of the drivers.
 And not until that happens it will be difficult to reign in on the excesses of these drivers and their masters. Doubtless, some of the drivers have shown obtuse understanding of the humongous waste they cause the society. Perhaps only a legislation can slow down the frequency of these accidents and return sanity on our roads. So far a good number of the drivers show by their reckless driving that they are  benumbed of any feelings. And they are not about to stop unless compelled to do so.

Everybody should be concerned about frequent occurrence of these accidents be they at Onitsha or elsewhere. What happened at Ochanja was painful enough to provoke our humanity. It does not call for politics however gainful.

Ejike Anyaduba
writes from Abatete


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