Jetty fire: Five more bodies recovered, N1.7bn lost, says maritime worker

Jetty fire: Five more bodies recovered, N1.7bn lost, says maritime worker

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ABOUT five more bodies have been recovered from the Bonny-Bille-Nembe Jetty in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, 24 hours after fire destroyed a large market and passenger boats.

A representative of the Maritime Union Workers of Nigeria, Nember Waterside unit, Clifford Emmanuel, said the exact casualty figure was unknown, while many are still hospitalised.

Emmanuel, who said over N1.7bn was lost to the inferno, stated, “In two units, boat Nembe Waterfront and Bonny units, we lost over 100 speed boats estimated at N1.7 bn. And for the duck workers’ wooden boats, they lost about three big boats, which is over N100m.

“We can’t quantify properties that were destroyed because they were coming with lots of goods,” he stated.

Emmanuel appealed to the state government to provide fire-fighting vessels at the jetty to forestall such incidents.

Meanwhile, Rivers State Government has issued a two-week eviction notice to owners of shanties at the jetty.

Sources at the jetty said local divers were still on recovery efforts, as about five more bodies were recovered on Tuesday.

The state Commissioner for Special Duties, Emeka Onowu, said this while speaking to journalists in Port Harcourt on Tuesday.

It was reported that a pregnant woman, two infants and seven others died in the fire outbreak in the wee hours of Monday.

Onowu, who blamed the fire to a gas explosion, said no one should blame the government for being wicked or being insensitive, noting that the planned demolition was in the best interest of the people to end all forms of illegal bunkering activities.

“We discovered that a gas cylinder loaded in a boat alongside about 60 jerricans of Kpo-fire (illegal refined petroleum products) caused the fire outbreak.

“The gas exploded and caught up with the Kpo-fire product and that was how the fire spread.

“So far, we have about nine casualties, including a pregnant lady, a two-month-old baby and two children aged nine and eleven.

“We have given them a 2-week ultimatum to vacate that place. The government has had enough.

“After two weeks, we are going to bring down all the shanties in that jetty,” the commissioner said.

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