FLOOD SWEEPS TEN TRADERS AWAY IN ONITSHA


At least 10 traders in Onitsha, Anambra State in eastern Nigeria, have died and many injured after they fell into a flooded drainage channel through which flood water flows into River Niger some kilometres away.
The incident happened during a heavy rainfall at popular Upper Iweka area of Onitsha city.
The victims drowned in the flood while standing on planks constructed as bridge across a wide drainage channel, while others were trying to cross to the other side of the highway.
The incident happened in the afternoon on Saturday, 5 September, 2015 after a heavy rainfall.
An eye witness, Emman Ejike, told our correspondent that the traders themselves used some planks to construct a makeshift bridge across the drainage channel to where they displayed their goods along the road to attract buyers, especially travellers who usually stopped at Upper Iweka.
He said over time, and unknown to the traders, the planks had been weakened due to pressure exerted on them by pedestrians.
Ejike narrated that when the rain started on the fateful day, many of the traders stood on top of the planks with their goods while others were crossing to the other side.

Suddenly, the planks broke and many of them fell into the wide drainage channel that was already flooded because of the rain that was falling and ten of the traders were swept away.
By the time the ten victims were rescued, they were already dead while others who were rescued alive but sustained injuries were taken to Ontisha General Hospital for treatment.
Residents have been reacting after the incident and blamed the incident on the government and the traders for converting the road to shops.
One of them, Luke Ikoku, said the government constructed the drainage channel and left it open, knowing full well that Upper Iweka is always busy because of presence of many motor parks there.

He explained that where there are motor parks, it was expected that hawkers will ply their trade there to solicit for customers, especially passengers and so the government should have made adequate plan for the area.
He advised that government should always have the interest of the people at heart while embarking in any public project.
Some of the traders who also spoke blamed the traders for disobeying the directives of the government.
James Ekelobi said that the government had warned them from using the place to sell their wares and government officials had chased the traders away several times, yet they always returned there to sell their goods.
He said it was not the government that placed the planks across the drainage channel but the traders.
When our correspondence visited Okpoko Police Division under whose jurisdiction the incident happened, the DPO was not around to comment on the matter.
However, police source confirmed the incident and said they have recovered the bodies and deposited them at the mortuary for autopsy reports 

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