The afternoon tanker fire incident on Upper Iweka axis of the commercial city of Onitsha in Anambra State on Wednesday is yet one in the many of such disheartening avoidable accidents on Nigerian roads.
Tanker fire incident has become an almost everyday occurrences in the Lagos – Ibadan highway and the ever busy Apapa wharf road within Lagos metropolis. Other highways such as Kaduna and Warri are not exempted from this devastating happenings.
Like it used to happen elsewhere, the Onitsha inferno was ignited when the tanker head pulled off and the tank carrying 33,000 litres of petroleum product fell into a ditch, spilled its content and caught fire.
The raging fire traced the path of the spilled content and left on its trail no fewer than 40 buildings, 500 lock up shops razed while a few lives were reportedly lost including that of a mother and her child.
It is unexplainable how the fire raged for about three hours or more without successful effort to put it out in such a commercial city.
This, again, attests to the level of unseriousness of government at all levels in providing infrastructural amenities which include responsive, effective and efficient firefighting service.
Report had it that fire fighters came, though a little bit late but their presence was meaningless as the pump attached to the vehicle was said to have developed fault.
One wonders if the Anambra State government has been budgeting funds for the state fire service, else why such an essential agency would be underequipped or carrying moribund gadgets like faulty pump.
Apart from the firefighting stations, it is expedient that makeshift centre to be operated by states emergency management agencies be situated in short distances in populated areas of town and cities
Though it was not ascertained if some of the victims were caught napping while trying to scoop fuel, there should be adequate orientation of the citizenry on how to escape such avoidable lost.
While nothing could be done about the dead, the government of Anambra State should assist other injured victims settle their medical bills while palliative relief be provided to those that lose their means of livelihood to the inferno.