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Onitsha Tanker Fire Disaster: Commercial Bus Drivers Return To Business

Ahamefule Chime, Onitsha

Barely five days after a tanker rammed into the Asaba Park, Upper-Iweka area of Onitsha killing about 120 people, the commercial drivers in the same park have returned to their daily business. At the Asaba park yesterday about nineteen buses painted in blue and white colour were seen parked inside the park.

While the drivers sat at various points inside the park discussing the latest gossip in town as if nothing had happened. However, some of the commercial drivers who seemed to have overcome the trauma were seen exchanging pleasantries with their colleagues who probably were meeting one another for the first time after the unfortunate incident last Sunday.

Despite the availability of buses plying Asaba route which were all stationed inside the park, no passenger was, however, found boarding nor disembarking from any of the buses. After a thorough search, a middle-aged man, Mr. Chukwuemeka Emodi who later identified himself as the chairman of the park told our correspondent that the drivers were still recovering from the shock of the incident after witnessing the gruesome death of some sympathisers who had rushed to rescue some victims trapped by the ravaging gasoline tanker which later exploded several minutes after it had rammed into the bus park.

Mr. Emodi observed that the commercial drivers lost one of their colleagues, Azubuike who hailed from Ebonyi state, but regretted that none of the deceased relations had shownup since the incident occurred. He gave a pathetic story of how the deceased Azubuike, a commercial driver at the park lost his life ”when the tanker rammed into our park Azubuike and others, as good Nigerians immediately rushed to the spot to assist in the rescue operation of some people trapped under the heavy truck”.

“The tanker had not exploded then. It was only about thirty to forty minutes when they were still trying to save some lives that the tanker exploded and consumed all those who had rushed to save other people’s lives. That was even what gave rise to the causality figure. Two of our members are still in critical condition in the hospital after sustaining severe burns”.

Regrettably, it was gathered that the Anambra state Government a few years ago entered into contract with a businessman for the management of the park after paying an undisclosed amount of money to the state. It may even seem impossible to relocate the park while the said contract is yet to expire. The park manager confided in this correspondent that he was employed by somebody to manage the park for him after reaching an agreement with the Anambra State Government. He, however, pleaded with the government to show sympathy to the bereaved families by paying compensation to the drivers who lost about twelve buses to the inferno and others who lost their beloved ones in the unfortunate incident.

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