An Epidemic is said to be looming in Koko community in Ethiope West Local Government Area of Delta State following the surfacing of dead bodies still floating in water at the scene of the October 1st fuel tanker explosion in Koko along Benin-Sepale road.
Daily Sun reports that two dead bodies have been pulled out of the swampy water while another has been identified.
One of the sympathizers who preferred anonymity, said about five dead bodies were recovered from the swampy water the previous day while others are yet to come up.
The source said that when the fire broke out, several persons made attempt to escape through the swamp water without knowing its depth and were trapped inside.
He said some others have been buried by the road side close to the scene of incident by their relatives.
Decrying the incident, the Executive Director, Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), Rev. David Ugolor, who paid an on-the-spot assessment visit to the scene of the fire disaster, said such a collosal loss could have been averted if the federal government had fixed the road.
“We stand here today with heavy hearts, burdened by the weight of yet another tragedy that could have been averted.
“As you are already aware, many commuters plying the Benin-Sepale road and onlookers were killed on October 1st in a multiple auto crashes involving a tanker ladened with petrol and over 15 commercial and private vehicles.
“The tanker was said to have fallen on its own while meandering through the deplorable portion between Ologbo in Edo State and Koko junction in Delta State.
“It immediately exploded, resulting in the razing of nearby vehicles, which were trapped in the usual gridlock on the failed road. This incident has left us in a state of mourning and deep sorrow”, Ugolor said.
He said It is disheartening to note that the Ologbo portion of the Sapele-Benin road has been a nightmare for travellers, especially during the rainy season, who are often trapped for hours, and at times, an entire day, losing man hours that could have been translated to undertaking productive economic activities and earning income for the family.
Ugolor added that the trouble caused by the state of the road has not only constituted discomfort to travellers but also hinders economic activities in the region as movement of goods and petroleum products have become difficult.
The ANEEJ Executive Director pointed out that the challenge has also increased transportation costs, thereby increasing the suffering of the people who are already living in hardship and extreme poverty.
He said that the East-West road remain a crucial artery for commerce and trade, connecting a section of the South East, the South-South and South-West regions of Nigeria.
He said several appeals have been made to the federal government to urgently address this issue, but their pleas have fallen on deaf ears, adding that only recently, the Minister of Works, Engr. Dave Umahi, visited the areas for on-the-spot assessment.
He said, following the visit, he expected rehabilitation work to commence immediately, but this has not happened.
He appealed to the federal government of Nigeria to declare a state of emergency on the East-West Road and take immediate decisive action to remedy the failed portions of the road, and even take a step further to complete the entire mega project which was started many years ago to avert a repeat of what happened on October 1st 2023.
Credit: Sun Newspaper