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Umahi visits scene of tanker inferno, sypathises with victims’ families, government

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…..blames drivers’s recklessness on incident

By AKOR SYLVESTER-Abuja

Minister of Works, Engr Nweze David Umahi has sympathised with government and people of Rivers State over the unfortunate tanker inferno that led to fatalities and left several vehicles in flames in an accident between a tanker truck driver carrying petroleum products and a trailer driver at the Indoroma-Aleto bridge axis of East-West road, Eleme in Rivers State.

Umahi who cut short his programme in Lagos to visit the spot of the incident, blamed drivers recklessness on the disaster.

He called for enhanced enforcement of driving rules and road safety checks, especially as regards drivers of heavy-duty vehicles.

The minister said, “My sympathy goes to all the families of the victims of the inferno for the unfortunate and irrecoverable loss of their loved ones. And then, to the government and people of Rivers State, I extend my sympathy to them. When somebody is dead, we are no longer talking about who is responsible.”

He described as darkening counsel without knowledge, what he called unwarranted statement credited to one Dr Legborsi Yamaabana who he said purports to be the President-General of Ogoni Youth Foundation and who, he said wrongfully and ungratefully took a swipe at the Federal Government and Renolds Construction Company, (RCC) Nigeria Ltd that is handling the rehabilitation of the section of East-West road, and blamed the ongoing road rehabilitation as the cause of the inferno and even threatened to drag them to International Criminal Court for negligence.

The Minister condemned the statement as a misrepresentation of facts as confirmed reports and eye witnesses’ accounts showed that it was a case of drivers’ recklessness and impatience that caused the sad incident.

He recalled, “Mr. President, when he came on board, he saw how terrible this road was. And he directed that work should be started. Not as usual, but that the road should be redesigned. Apart from Benin to Warri and a part of Lokoja to Benin, there’s no other section of the road in this country that this kind of construction is going on.”

He spoke of the efforts of the Federal Ministry of Works in fixing the road. “The ongoing 15-kilometer dualized road with six lanes is about the heaviest traffic road in the country. And so, because the soil is bad, we are digging about one meter. We are filling with lumps about half a meter. We are filling with sharp sand about half a meter. We are filling with stone base, eight inches. We are putting four inches, another stone base mixed with 5% cement. And then we are now putting eight inches reinforced concrete pavement. The idea of Mr. President is that this should last for a minimum of 100 years, considering the load that it’s carrying”

He absolved the Federal Government and the construction company, Renolds Construction Company (RCC) Nigeria Ltd of any negligence, noting that construction work in the area was recording progressive and quality outcomes.

The minister, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media, Orji Uchenna Orji stated that: “The RCC, they are trying, they are doing well. But my visit is going to ensure that they open the construction in a number of sections. That is what they must have to do. But the quality of what they are doing is quite commendable. But they must listen to us and open the construction. Whether they are delaying or not delaying has nothing to do with the accident.”

In her earlier brief, the Acting Federal Controller of Works in charge of Rivers State, Engr. Enwereama Tarilade said it was a case of collision between a tanker truck carrying petroleum products with a trailer driver and who were competing for a right of way on a heavy traffic along a section of the reconstruction of the dualized 15km section of the East-West road section III: (Eleme Junction- Onne Port in Rivers State being handled by Renolds Construction Company (RCC) Ltd and that the incident occured at about 8pm on Friday, 26th April 2024.

She expressed her condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the unfortunate incident.

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