Onitsha fire: Senate seeks cash support for victims


THE Senate on Thursday urged the Federal Government to include financial support in the package for traders  affected by the October 16 fuel tanker fire at Upper Iweka Onitsha, Anambra State.

The federal lawmaking body said such cash gesture will enable the traders restart their businesses.

This followed a motion sponsored by Senator Ifeanyi Ubah during a plenary on “Tragic Fuel Tanker Fire disaster in Onitsha, Anambra State.”

The motion was cosponsored by Senators Stella Oduah (PDP-Anambra North) and Uche Ekwunife (PDP-Anambra Central).

The Senate also urged the state government to find out why the fire service in the state could not speedily respond to the emergency.

It also urged the police to work with the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) to carry out a thorough investigation of the incident.

Ubah said the death toll was unfortunate, and called for the speedy passage of the Petroleum Tankers Safety Bill.

“How such magnitude of inferno could rage for over four hours before fire service came still beats my imagination.”

The lawmaker said that in order to ensure safer roads across the country, there has to be stricter enforcement of traffic rules by the FRSC, the police and all relevant security agencies.

Senator Oduah said the accident could have been prevented if there were good roads and the tanker drivers were better trained.

She said, “The market in Onitsha is the market that services sub-Sahara Africa; it is the market that has a daily turnover of N6.4 billion,” adding that it is crucial to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Senator Ike Ekweremadu called for the renovation of the market, which is said to be over 80 years old.

“It is time for Anambra State Government to modernise the market so that there could be easy access to the market in case we have a fire incident such as this.”

Speaking further, Ekweremadu said, “We are not used to insurance in this country. So it is time for us to find a way of letting people know the benefit of insurance. Insurance is key,” he said.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan said there is need for tanker drivers to be certified.

“We urge the FRSC to test drivers on the highways to ensure that they are not under any influence,” he said