On Wednesday, October 16th, 2019, fire gutted parts of the popular Upper Iweka and Ochanja Market in Onitsha, Anambra State, after a tanker loaded with petrol fell and exploded. Some deaths were reported, even as many shops with very valuable goods were razed down in the inferno.
The incident, which is one of too many, has left many Nigerians in shock. Indeed, this is not the first time this kind of thing is happening in a major Nigerian city. In the city of Lagos, tankers loaded with inflammable liquids are constantly exploding. However, the people of Nigeria are tired and are now calling for an end to such incidents which could as well be avoided.
Among those who have reacted to this development is Nigeria’s former Vice President and presidential frontrunner during this year’s General Elections, Atiku Abubakar. He stated that Nigeria had experienced way too many incidents of fallen tankers, implying that some urgent steps were needed to be taken to prevent future occurrences. He also extended his condolences to all those who were affected by the incident.
We've had many preventable fuel tanker tragedies. I received with sadness, reports of a tanker explosion in Onitsha, Anambra State, which caused massive destruction to lives and properties in Ochanja Market area. My prayers and thoughts are with the families of the affected. -AA
— Atiku Abubakar (@atiku) October 17, 2019
The country’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, also sympathised with the victims. Meanwhile, knowing full well that sympathy is not all that is needed right now, President Buhari disclosed that he had given directives for immediate actions to be taken in order to “stem these frequent fatal disasters on public roads”.
I extend my sympathies to all the victims of the explosion, whose houses, shops and other property were destroyed.
— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) October 17, 2019
Meanwhile, regular Nigerians have also reacted, most of whom basically shared pictures depicting the aftermath of yesterday’s horror. In most of these pictures, victims could be seen standing in front of the wreckages that used to be their shops and sources of livelihood. It is difficult to imagine how much these people have lost and the long to starting again.
— Caesar mayor (@caesar_mayor) October 17, 2019
After the fire out break that occurred yesterday, at Onitsha ochanja market in Anambra state, see how this man's shoe shop now looks like.
What a painful experience! #blackwednesday#Pray4Onitsha#OnitshaFire
Who knows how much he would have invested into this business pic.twitter.com/vc7e8sohaA
— #BBNaija Wothappen (@Wothappen9ja) October 17, 2019
Also, many Nigerians have put the blame squarely on the government. This is because yesterday’s tragedy and many others like it could have been if the right political will was in place. Cheta Nwanze of SBN Intelligence is one of those sharing this line of thought. According to him, the government of the day really should do more towards forestalling these tragedies.
#OnitshaFire on my mind, and I remembered this.
We learn no lessons in #Nigeria, we just carry on hoping that God will come down from high and help us.
Let's ask ourselves, if 3MB collapses tomorrow, how many people will drown? https://t.co/9yN8IweMqs
— Chxta (@Chxta) October 17, 2019
It is even sadder to think that as the fire raged through the stores, destroying goods and burning people alive, the ineffective fire service was unable to help the situation. That is another reason why people are enraged and demanding change.
@WillieMObiano rocks a customized Stuart Weitzman designed Louis Vuitton boots that cost $27,000 which is enough to buy one fire-fighting truck.
Obiano and his wife value designer wears more than the lives of Ndi Anambra.#Anambraisinruins #OnitshaFire pic.twitter.com/Qphv5JmPGz
— odumodugbulagu (@odumodugbulagu) October 17, 2019
All of us over here at Nairametrics extend our condolences to all the businessmen and women who have either lost a lot as a result of this tragedy. We wish you all a quick recovery from this.