Independence Tragedy: How Bad Roads, Greed, Wasted Lives Of Delta Rural Folks

Ola ‘Kiya, Reporting

DETAILS have emerged on how some rural folks were roasted to death near Ugbenu Koko Junction along Warri – Benin highway at the wee hours of Sunday, October 1.

Although there are conflicting figures of victims of the carnage, Stonix News gathered that no fewer than a score were literally roasted in the incident.

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Amid deplorable state of the road, sources said the carnage was a result of a spark from a faulty vehicle after a tanker laden with petrol fell and began to spill its content into the swamp.

Witnesses said the tanker fell and spilled its contents on the road with some rural folks taking advantage of the situation to scoop fuel against unheeded warnings.

“We tried to prevent them but the youths threatened to beat us up telling us its their community.

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“They came in their numbers carrying all sorts of containers and when the explosion happened around 12:15 a.m this morning we all fled.

“You can see dead bodies on the ground, some of them ran into the forest as I speak, some dead bodies have been removed, I counted over 20 bodies” an eye witness who identified himself as Yusuf, narrated.

Confirming the tragedy on Sunday, the Delta State Police Command, however, said only five persons were burnt to death in the tanker fire that occured along Warri- Benin Highway in Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State on Sunday.

Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Bright Edafe, in his reaction to the tragedy on Sunday afternoon, said eight buses, two tankers, five trailers, two cars and one motorcycle caught in the inferno were burnt to ashes.

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A statement sent to Stonix News, on behalf of the Commissioner of Police, CP Wale Abass, in which he commiserated with families of the victims, pointed greed and stiff-neckedness as part of the reasons for the carnage.

He, therefore, warned desperate Nigerians against greed and refusal to learn from the past, similar tragedies even in that axis.

He said bodies of the victims had been evacuated to Oghara General Hospital’s mortuary in Ethiope West Local Government Area of the state.

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The command gave details of the tragic carnage that left yet-to-be-identified humans, automobiles and the environment in ruins.

“In the early hours of today 1/10/2023 0200hrs, the Command recorded a tragic incident where a tanker laden with PMS being driven towards Benin along Warri – Benin Road fell down upon getting to Ugbenu Koko Junction.

“Its content spilled into the nearby swamp, and the spillage attracted couple of youths who took advantage of the incident and started scooping the fuel into jerry cans and other containers.

“While they were at it, an explosion erupted and the fire from the explosion engulfed the whole area.

“The fire claimed the lives of five persons amongst the youths who had come to scoop the spilled fuel, and also combusted several properties which includes the following: the fallen tanker, Eight buses of different makes, Two Tankers, Five Trailers, Two Motorcycles, One Siena space bus, and one ‘C’ Class Mercedes Benz car.

“Due to the fire, the registration numbers of all these affected vehicles were not clearly visible.

“At the event of this outburst, the scene was visited, and bodies of the victims were evacuated to Oghara General Hospital’s mortuary.

“In a bid to clear the road of obstructions efforts are being made by the men of Oghara Police Division, in colloboration with the Federal Road Safety Commission {FRSC} at Ethiope West LGA to ensure the free flow of traffic.

“In the light of this tragic incident, the Delta State Police Command, CP Wale Abass extends his condolence to the families of those who lost their lives in this unfortunate event.

“He further expressed his displeasure in the inexorable perversity of Nigerians, especially the youths.

“He stated that it is sad that we never learn from past occurrences, since this isn’t the first time such incident has happened.

“Nonetheless, he appeals that Nigerians should do away with greed and avoid scenes where there is an occurence of oil spillages as it poses a serious threat to their lives and the lives of others.

“The CP also appreciates the Federal Road safety for working hand in hand with the Command in assuring convenience to all road users in Delta State,” the statement read.

Stonix News recalled that the Koko – Ologbo axis of the Warri – Benin Expressway has been in a deplorable state for over 10 years with no respite in spite of its connecting five oil-producing Niger Delta states.

Breakdown of trucks conveying goods from Lagos and other parts of Nigeria are common sights along the deplorable road with many goods, lives and man-hours successively lost amid no respite in site.

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