Thu. May 23rd, 2024

By Ojukwu Emmanuel Chiadikaobi

 

Late Friday evening, a tanker transporting premium motor spirit exploded on the East-West Road near the Indorama Petro-Chemical Company Gate in Eleme, Rivers State, resulting in significant casualties and damage. Governor Siminalayi Fubara has expressed profound sadness over the devastating fire that claimed at least five lives and destroyed over 120 vehicles.

The governor, accompanied by the State Commissioner of Police, Olatunji Disu, and the State Commissioner for Energy and Natural Resources, Uchechukwu Nwafor, visited the scene early Saturday morning to assess the impact of the disaster. Speaking at a gathering in Ubima community, Governor Fubara described the incident as a “great tragedy” and stressed that the accident could have been avoided with more caution and patience among road users.

“The scene was horrific, beyond what words can convey,” Governor Fubara stated, noting the heavy reconstruction work currently ongoing on the route which may have contributed to the accident. He emphasized the need for better road use practices and patience, particularly given the known challenges of navigating through the major reconstruction area.

The fire, which erupted following a collision between the tanker and a tipper truck, was battled by emergency services late into the night. Over 70 vehicles were reported engulfed by flames, and multiple lives were tragically lost, including a pregnant woman.

State Police Command spokesperson, Grace Iringe-Koko, confirmed the distressing details, including the retrieval of four charred bodies. The Federal Road Safety Corps, led by Sector Commander Christopher Kuje, also confirmed these details and noted that the victims’ remains were transported to the Military Hospital in Port Harcourt.

Eyewitnesses at the scene expressed frustration over the ongoing road works, pointing out that the lack of adequate access and slow pace of construction might have contributed to the tragedy. An immediate review of traffic management and safety measures during the road reconstruction phase has been called for by local residents.

Governor Fubara has pledged to support the families of the deceased and those who suffered losses in the fire. He has requested a comprehensive report from relevant government agencies to determine the full extent of the damage and to formulate a plan to prevent such incidents in the future. The governor also promised to take swift action to address the safety concerns on the road to mitigate the risk of future tragedies.

As the community mourns the loss of life and property, the state government’s response and preventive measures will be closely watched in the hope of enhancing road safety and ensuring that such a disaster does not occur again.

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