By Segun James and Ndubuisi Francis
Few months after a petrol tanker explosion killed about 200 people, another petrol tanker laden with fuel Friday plunged into a market and exploded at Mbiama, Ahoada West Local Government Area of the State, killing a 6o-year-old widow and unspecified number of other people.
Also, unspecified number of shops believed to be used by hawkers, a mini Park owned by the National Road Transport Workers Union (NRTWU), houses and cars near the scene of the crash were destroyed.
This is as the Ministry of Niger Delta said the East West road has not been abandoned but would be completed in 2014 and has appealed to all stakeholders to put hands on deck to ensure that they source money from the African Development Bank to achieve the goal.
THISDAY gathered that the 60-year old widow sold local gin at the market.
Mbiama is a boarder community on the East-west Road between Rivers and Bayelsa States. The incident caused a major traffic gridlock along the road for hours.
Eyewitnesses said the petrol tanker was coming from Warri in Delta State and lost control when it tried to avoid a pothole. It reportedly lost control, hit a smaller car before plunging into the market, where it upturned, spilling its content and went up in flames.
Lamenting his woes, a mechanic, who gave his name as Musa, said, “Everything I have, I have lost. My shop, my house and vehicles under my repair have been destroyed. Where do I start from,” he lamented.
Timi, a lady who sells bread and consumables blamed the driver of the tanker, saying, “All the drivers plying this route usually slow down when they get to this junction, but this driver was still on speed and lost control,” adding she lost all her goods and shop to the explosion.
Also, Davidson, who said he lost his home to the inferno said, "I believe the tanker driver was careless, because with the information we had, they say he was coming down the way and he hit a car and it was on that speed that on reaching here he (the driver) lost control why trying to dodge a car coming from the opposite direction and turned".
Deputy Director (Press) in the ministry, Mr. Fidelis Osammor, in a statement made available to THISDAY, yesterday said it was important to set the records right and provide current and accurate information about the state of the portions of the East-West Road significantly damaged by the flood, which include the Ughelli-Ugweru-Patani-Mbiama and Kaiama Sections of the Road being handled by Setraco Nigeria Limited that appear to be the subject of the negative reports.”
The statement noted that In order to complete the project by 2014, according to the programmes of work and cash flow projections for the four sections, the additional funds to the 2012 budget required was N34,428,000,000.00; N86,553,529,762.00 for 2013 and finally, N50,013,997,249.00 for 2014.