Raymond Ozoji, Awka
A frontline transporter, and owner of the GUO motors limited, Chief Godwin Okeke popularly known as GUO, has expressed worry on the attitude of touts during disaster in Onitsha which prevented better rescue mission during the Ochanja market fire.
Chief Okeke who lamented that his brand new Mercedes 711 fire truck was destroyed by hoodlums and his rescue team beaten up as they rushed to assist stop the raging inferno, urged residents of Onitsha to always support any rescue efforts by any group during emergency periods.
Chief Okeke whose Sectional Manager, Mr. Vincent Agbo, led the rescue mission sympathized with the victims of Wednesday’s and Friday morning Onitsha fire disasters, while blaming the extent of damage on hoodlums who prevented help during the inferno.
Narrating how the GUO fire truck was destroyed, the sectional manager, Mr Agbo, said that the GUO Boss, Chief Okeke, on hearing about the ugly news of the fire incident at Onitsha, quickly directed his company to send their fire truck to the area and was later shocked when he received the sad news that the fire truck was destroyed and his staff who went for the rescue mission mobbed, and inflicted with different degrees of injuries.
Agbo said: ‘’ It was not up to 30 minutes the fire started that our Boss GUO himself, asked us to take the company’s 5,000 liters of water fire truck to go and help stop the fire but we were attacked, the fire truck destroyed and vandalized. We thank God, we were not killed.
“The hoodlums damaged the pumping machine and if they had allowed us entry, the inferno would have been contained. These people who attacked us were not genuine traders, if they were, they would not attack us.’’
He thanked God that none of his staff lost their lives to the incident, but revealed that seven members of staff of the GUO company are currently receiving medical attention in hospital as they sustained varying degrees of injury.
He said he returned from the hospital before encountering newsmen on inspection of the damaged truck.
He wondered why mischief-makers would highjack such a deadly situation to perpetrate evil in expense of their fellow brothers who were losing billions of naira and urged market leadership in the state to ensure they procure fire trucks with tight security round their markets in order not to allow hoodlums take advantage of such situations capable of depriving them of external help from fellow businessmen during disasters, as any help no matter how little is very important in savaging the situation.
He called on well-meaning individuals to lend helping hands to the victims of the fire as the property lost to the inferno was too large for the state to bear alone as according to him most of the traders are more like walking dead as most lost entire life investments in the fire disaster.