Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra on Thursday ordered the relocation of filling stations constructed around residential buildings and markets.
Mr. Obiano gave the order at the scene of a fire incident which destroyed 13 buildings, 10 vehicles and other valuables worth millions of naira on Upper New Market Road, Onitsha, on Wednesday night.
The governor, who cut short his trip to Abuja to visit the scene, expressed worry over the increasing cases of fire incidents in the state.
“At about 8 p.m. on Wednesday when I was about to retire after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, I was called and briefed about fire incidents in five locations in the state.
“The fire incidents occurred in Nnewi, Nimo, Okpuno, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka and Onitsha and all started almost at the same time.
“It is only in Onitsha that we had an extensive damage of property where about 15 families were displaced but no death was recorded in all.”
He said that a committee would be set up to find out the remote causes of these fire incidents and what government could do differently to assist the victims.
“We are going to find out whether these filling stations will remain here because Onitsha has grown and the gas stations are now in the midst of residential buildings.’’
The governor said that the committee, in collaboration with the Obi of Onitsha, Alfred Achebe, would determine how the affected 15 families would be resettled around the area for a year.
Mr. Obiano also said that a barrier would be placed across the three flyovers in Awka, to restrict the movement of articulated vehicles on them.
He urged the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, to impound articulated vehicles that violate traffic rules and regulations.
While commending the firemen from the state and Asaba, for their timely intervention, Mr. Obiano disclosed that three special fire trucks to complement the existing ones had been ordered.
According to him, each has three components — 10, 000 litres capacity for water, 750 litres for foam and 75 kilogram for powder — which will make fire-fighting faster and more efficient.
“One of the trucks will be deployed to the Main market, Onitsha, while the others will be deployed to Nnewi and Awka; the trucks will arrive within two weeks,” he added.
He appealed to traditional rulers and leaders in the communities to sensitise their people on the need to reduce bush-burning, especially during the harmattan season.
Mr. Obiano also advised people who do not have business around an inferno to run for their lives rather than stay close to take videos and pictures.
He commended the security operatives that assisted during the inferno, saying that their presence helped to stop attempts by hoodlums to loot banks.
Mr. Obiano also lauded members of the public who summoned courage to help put out the fire.
“What is left now is for us to begin the clearance of this place and I will direct our contractors and with the help of the Army, to pull out the tanker and remove the debris,” he said.