Oil theft: Fire engulfs Otovwodo Market in Ughelli
By Jon Egie
Tragedy was averted yesterday when fire engulfed a section of the Otovwodo Market on the axis of the East West Road in Ughelli.
The fire was said to have been ignited by a spark from an Up riser on a 100mm high tension wire which dropped on the ground where a huge collection of petroleum products was stocked.
It was gathered that the market section had been a spot for the sales and storing of illegal petroleum products by market women.
Business Manager of BEDC in Ughelli, Mr Bethel Ebiuwhe said he was aware of the illegal business under the high tension wire and the possible danger inherent and wrote to the relevant authorities to warn the traders and evacuate them from the spot but no action was taken.
The conflagration consumed all the containers of illegal petroleum products, spilling the fire around and into the adjoining drainage. But for Otovwodo youths who blocked the raging fire from approaching the Shop Fair at the angle 90 of the road, the mega supermarket would have been gutted by the fire.
Mr Precious Dibie, Operations/Maintenance Superintendent of BEDC in Ughelli said as a result of the fire outbreak, blackout has been imposed on the whole of Ughelli until materials are provided by the authority of BEDC to repair the damage. He said the 33 KVA NIPP federal government project which act as a relief to the Otovwodo/Patani feeder line was affected. Asked how long that would take he said “I don’t know”.
The local government council chairman, Chief Godwin Adode was on ground to assess the level of damage caused by the fire. He was grateful to God that no life was lost but has ordered that the whole area be quarantined and placed a ban on trading in the area.
“The spark on the high tension wire fell on the place where some of our women sell kerosene, diesel and fuel and that caused an explosion leading to a huge ball of fire that consumed part of the market and BEDC wires.
“I had called a meeting to the palace of the Ovie of Ughelli on this matter and warned that nobody should sell under the high tension because of the danger involved since life has no duplicate. But some interest groups came to plead and mount pressure on me and I refused. So what I am saying now is that nobody should sell under the high tension wire.” Adode said.