18th July, 2012
The traditional ruler of Igbuya in Ekpeye Kingdom, King Joshua Eyiba,has revealed that the death toll from last Thursday’s petrol tanker fire disaster at Okogbe community, Ahoada West local government area of Rivers state has risen to 191 as at Wednesday, 18 July.
He said that from the census conducted, it was found out that some people rushed affected relations to private hospitals while others took the relations to traditional homes where they applied local herbs but died in the process.
Mr. Emeka Nworgu, the Commissioner for Special Duties, who was at Eyiba’s palace on the orders of Governor Chibuike Amaechi to find out how to cushion the effect of the death of the victims, was told that some of those burnt beyond recognition included non-indigenes.
Eyiba noted that if Fire Service men had arrived earlier, the casualty figure would have been less.
Besides, he said, if the road had been fully dualised, the accident would not have happened.
The Commissioner said that that he was directed by Governor Amaechi to meet with the traditional ruler to get the actual figure of victims affected so that the relations of the victims could be reached to cushion the pain of their losses.
The Councillor representing Ward 5 in Ahoada West Legislative Arm, Mr. Thompson Otobo, had earlier called for the location of fire service stations in all the local government areas or senatorial districts.
Otobo said the people were not happy with the Federal Government over the slow pace of work on the dualisation of the East-West Road.
He argued that the bad condition and narrowness of the road compounded by its usage by heavy haulage trucks were major causes of road accidents.
Meanwhile, Nnimo Bassey of Environmental Rights Agenda and Friends of the Earth has raised an alarm over the pollution of the environment in Okogbe community.
He raised the alarm after visiting the disaster site where he called for a proper clean up and remediation of the environment by experts because of the stench emanating from unrecovered corpses.
“The environment has been compromised. The atmosphere is compromised and polluted already. Something has to be done to preserve the lives of the living in the immediate outside environment.”
By Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt