Tension as fire guts Onitsha chemical market again



What would have resulted to another serious inferno was on Wednesday averted by men of the Anambra State Fire Service at the Chemical market, Bridge Head, Onitsha, Anambra State.

This is coming 24 hours after an explosion rocked the market Tuesday morning.

The explosion which led to a fire incident resulted in the death of four persons, while many others were injured.

Speaking to journalists on Wednesday, the Publicity Secretary of the Bridge Head Market Traders Association, Sir Peter Okala, said that they came to the market in the morning (Wednesday) to discover that the fire had started again, but was quickly put out by firefighters.

He regretted that the immediate past leadership of the market did nothing to protect the market and the traders during fire situations as experienced on Tuesday.

Okala said: “We came to the market this morning and discovered that the fire have started again and because the Fire Service men were there since yesterday, the fire could not continue and the fire service had to fight it to the end.

“The problem we have in the market is that past leadership of the market did nothing to protect the market despite the huge revenue that they were collecting.

“Also all the exit routes in the market have been blocked with the construction of illegal structures and shops hence when incidents like this happen people are trapped and that explains the number of deaths and casualties during the fire incident.”

Okala further enjoined Gov Chukwuma Soludo to expedite action in improving fire facilities around the market and other markets in the state.

The Anambra State Commissioner for Health, Dr Afam Obidike, and his medical team has however visited the victims of the fire incident who are currently receiving attention at hospitals in the area, including in Asaba, capital of neighbouring Delta State.

He said: “Ia m already in Asaba with my medical personnel and we were there and other medical facilities where the victims are responding to treatment and the state government is taking pains to take care of them.

“We shall continue to assist and visit those victims and provide medical services to them because it is an unfortunate incident.

“What happened here was that there was a suspected chemical explosion at the Government line in the market and unfortunately many people got injured while some lost their lives and goods worth millions of naira got lost too.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of lives, many injuries and material losses recorded as a result of this unfortunate incident.”

The commissioner explained that his visits to Delta and White Specialist Hospitals were to ensure that those who sustained various degrees of injuries were receiving adequate medical attention.

According to him, he was able to interact with one of the doctors, who assured him that they will treat the victims of the fire disaster well, adding: “Of course, I will be visiting often.

“Gov. Chukwuma Soludo has been briefed on the incident and that was why I was directed to ensure that the injured were receiving adequate medical attention.”