By Emmanuel Ndukuba
Awka, – The Anambra Government on Wednesday handed over N500,000 cheque each to the 17 persons whose houses and apartments were destroyed by fire in Onitsha on Feb. 15.
Gov. Willie Obiano presented the cheques to the victims at the governor’s Lodge in Amawbia.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the presentations of the cheques were due to a preliminary report of an assessment committee setup by the governor on Feb. 16.
The committee was mandated to look into the immediate and remote causes of the inferno.
They were also required to find out the actual victims and proffer precautionary measures to avoid recurrence of such disaster.
NAN reports that the committee in its report identified 73 persons who were affected including house owners, tenants, lawyers, business operators and petty traders.
Seventeen of them were selected for the first phase of the intervention.
Obiano said that part of the money was for a year rent of the displaced victims and additional N200, 000 to assist them procure basic things required for resettlement.
The governor said that some measures had been taken by the state government toward combating fire challenges.
“They are procurement of three state of the art fire fighting trucks of 10,000-litre water capacity each and compartment that has 750 litres of foam and 75 kg of powder.
“Training of 200 medical personnel to assist with first aid treatment and evacuation in emergency situations,’’ he said.
Obiano said that the trucks would be positioned in Onitsha, Awka and Nnewi to serve the three senatorial districts of the state.
According to him, processes have commenced for the recruitment of 100 youths to make up for the shortfall in manpower of the state fire service.
The governor, while commiserating with the victims, stressed the need for the citizenry to be safety conscious and to embrace insurance to cushion the effects of eventualities.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Chief Paul Odenigbo, who is the chairman of the committee, commended the governor’s gesture.
He said that the committee was working to develop strategies to improve the safety culture of the people.
The Anglican Bishop of Niger West, Rt. Rev. Johnson Ekwe, described Obiano as a “visionary governor per excellence.’’
Mrs Joana Oboli, one of the victims thanked the governor for coming to their rescue.
Mr Nduka Alor, another victim, said that by the gesture, the governor had shown that “issue bordering on the people’s welfare is of great concern to him.’’