Onitsha market fire: Panel submits report, says dead, injured yet to be compensated

Onitsha market fire: Panel submits report, says dead, injured yet to be compensated

The Panel of inquiry inaugurated on 8 June, 2022 by the State Government through the Onitsha South Local Government Area caretaker committee chairman, Chief Emeka Orji, to investigate, make an inquest, examine and to explore the remote and root cause of the tire incident that happened on Nov.8, 2022, Friday, submitted her report to the Onitsha South council chairman.

The chairman of the nine-man panel, comrade Peter Okala, before the submission at the chairman’s office, disclosed that from investigation cause of the investigation the cause of the explosion was chemical reaction, not a bomb blast as insinuated or assumed by some people.

“So many members of bridgehead market sustained injuries and some are still in the hospital while one member’s leg was amputated, three unions were affected by the explosion, which included, Ogbogwu International market, Chain saw/Allied and PS Union.

“The rebuilding of shops has started extensively with the approved plan from the Onitsha South Local Government.

“The dead and the injured have not been compensated, the person /persons that caused the explosion is a registered member of the PS union, and has disappeared, had not entered the market since then.

“Members are agitating for the chemical line to be moved outside the market and the promise from the government to assist in rebuilding the demolished shops has not been fulfilled.

“Victims paid #50,000.00 each, totaling 1.6M to the President General, PG, Bridge head market and are demanding for refund. We discovered that only four persons lost their lives contrary to insinuations that they were about nine,” Okala stated

In his speech, the Secretary of the panel, Dr Frank Udemmadu revealed that they reached out to an erudite Professor Emeritus, Prof. Okeruru, a chemist from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka and he gave them detailed information on chemicals that are inflammable and combustible.

“He pointed that some categories of chemicals are not supposed to be stored in a hot or humid areas and in a densely populated environment.

“Chemicals of explosive, corrosive and inflammable nature should be banned from all markets in the state. Those that died and the injured have not been compensated, the government should do the needful.

“Government should foot bills for the rebuilding of the shops, most especially, the ones that were brought down to create access for rescue operation and members that lost goods worth hundreds if millions should be compensated as well.

“The affected members that paid #50,000 to the PG of the market should be refunded without hesitation. We do not subscribe for the chemical line to be removed from the market but to monitor, control and make sure that those combustible chemicals be checkmated by formation of a strong task force for the union of the market and other markets in the state.

“The government should provide alternative power source to the markets in the state, most especially solar powered,etc.  

In his response, the Onitsha South Local Government Chairman, Hon.Emeka Orji thanked the committee for her job, stating that handling of chemicals issue in the market will be his next target and pointing out that his next project will be provision of head bridge with service station even as he promised to finish what he has started

“I am working very hard to reconstruct and rebuild a new Onitsha South, I want to build an ultra modern market at Ochanja, I started with oduigbo, I demolished it and I will rebuilt it and other parts of the market will follow suit.

Others that spoke at the event ware the chairman of Chain saw/Allied products, Chief Onyebuchi Umeh, Chairman Stakeholders/ leaders of thought, Chief Bonaventure Ucheagwu, Legal Adviser to council chairman, Chief Stanley Okakor and the council secretary, Mr Paul Onuachalla.

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