PETROAN reveals real cause of Eleme fire disaster

The Petroleum Product Retail Outlet Owners Association of Nigeria (PETROAN) says the fire incident along the Eleme axis of the East-West Road in Rivers State, which resulted in significant damage to properties and loss of lives, was caused by a vehicular accident.

The State Chairman of PETROAN, Francis Dimkpa, explained that a heavy-duty vehicle collided with a petrol-laden truck from behind amidst heavy traffic, causing the valve of the petrol truck to open.

Dimkpa, in an interview with DAILY POST, stated that subsequently, the heat from the collision ignited the spilled petrol, resulting in a fire and subsequent explosion.

Expressing concern over the incident, Dimkpa emphasized that proper road maintenance could have potentially prevented such a tragedy, recalling PETROAN’s several appeal to the government to fix the road.

“The pain is such that the lives and properties water would have been avoidable.

“Assuming all our cries, all our shouting, all our advocacy had been taken seriously, and that road fixed to standard, that accident would have been avoided.”

Dimkpa also expressed concern that some individuals who were not eyewitnesses have been spreading inaccurate information that the fire incident was caused by an explosion from a tanker.

In response to the losses suffered, both by PETROAN members and the general public, Dimkpa stated that the association would convene to determine the appropriate course of action.

”It’s even more painful to us, the members of the Petroleum Product Retail Outlet Owners Association of Nigeria that persons who were not eyewitnesses, were saying the fire was caused by an explosion, tanker explosion.

“Our members who were present at the incident, confirmed to us that the fire was caused by an accident owing to the traffic. The hustle and pulling of traffic challenge. That was what ignited the fire.

“The tanker explosion was much later, when the fire had escalated. So people should not give the wrong news that the fire was caused by tanker explosion, because that is not what led to the fire.

“The fire was caused by a road accident, due to the traffic hustle and pulling on that Eleme Road that is substandard, that is below National and international acceptance. That is painful to the people of Rivers State, painful to the people of Nigeria who navigate along that road day and night.

“We have decried that situation, we have complained about that situation, and we are pained.

“The association will go back to its congress to decide on what to do, following the loss our members have suffered, and the general public have suffered as a result of this accidental fire which was not in any way caused by tanker explosion. It was caused by an accident on that bad road”, he added.

When DAILY POST contacted the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, Rivers State Command, to get information regarding number of casualties, the Sector Commander promised to provide updates soon.

As at the time of filling this report, it is uncertain the number of lives lost.

DAILY POST, however, reports that several cars were burnt down as a result of the fire incident, with some people seen trapped in cars already burnt beyond recognition.

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