… as agency averts another fire disaster
Raymond Ozoji, Awka
Barely two days after the catastrophic fire incident that claimed the lives of a nursing mother and her child including several others at Upper Iweka axis of Onitsha, the Anambra state fire service has averted another inferno that would have cost the state another misfortune.
The agency’s timely response to the fire outbreak that occurred at Chukwudi Bus stop Omaba axis along the Enugu-Onitsha federal highway near Bessoy Petrol Station about 2am Friday day morning, saved what would have been the semblance of the catastrophe that occurred at Upper Iweka on Wednesday this week.
The state fire chief and director of the fire service Engr. Martin Onyedikachukwu Agbili who gave an account of the incident said his team arrived early enough at the scene and fought the fire to a standstill.
He said the fire was caused by a tanker carrying premium motor spirit which caught fire as it fell off the road.
According to him, “Another tanker fell and caught fire by 3am. All of us went from Awka straight to Onitsha to stop the fire. We were able to control it and we left there by 6am back to Awka.
“So people were happy that we reported early to extinguish the fire. The chief security officer to the governor was there. The chief of staff to the governor was there. The commissioner for public utilities was also there. So we were able to stop the fire and no life was lost to the inferno.”
On the issue of his purported sacking by Governor Willie Obiano on the social media, the state fire chief debunked such rumours saying that no such thing ever happened and on the contrary, the governor has approved a total upgrade of the facilities of the state fire service coupled with the recruitment of 120 more personnel to augment its workforce.
Agbili said, “The governor has approved 12 fire trucks for Anambra State Fire Service, he approved 10 Sienna cars, he equally approved a new official car for me as the chief fire officer.
“What we used to receive was 10 naira hazardous allowance but the governor instantly increased it to 20,000 naira hazardous allowance. Our offices in Awka, Amawbia and Onitsha would be renovated. The governor also approved the recruitment of about 120 more personnel into the state fire service.
“The governor also directed that all the approvals he made for the upgrade of the state fire service should be done and implemented with the next two weeks.”
Furthermore, the fire chief said he was not aware of the intention of the state government to send a bill to the state house of assembly to grant full autonomy to the state fire agency to enable it to operate independently as well as insulate it from the bureaucratic bottlenecks of the state ministry of public utilities which it is currently under.
He said he was not aware of such development as being peddled on the social media currently and that the governor didn’t mention such in the course of the approvals he made for the fire agency.
He also said it was a false information that the incumbent Special Adviser to Governor Willie Obiano on Creative Security Air Vice Marshal Ben Chiobi would function as the Managing Director of the fire agency when it eventually gains full autonomy.
The chief fire officer said such falsehood was misleading because he is still heading the state fire service and that the governor is not expressing any doubts about his ability to man the organization adding that AVM Ben Chiobi would only play advisory role to the state fire agency.
But when contacted, AVM Ben Chiobi said that the information was true that soon he would head the fire agency as the Managing Director.
The state commissioner for information and public enlightenment Mr. C. Don Adinuba also confirmed in a press statement that AVM Ben Chiobi would oversee the activities of the state fire service as the Managing Director.