Upper Iweka Blaze – Sort it Out! No Long Talking

Upper Iweka Blaze – Sort it Out! No Long Talking

I hadn’t intended to share another post this soon, but yesterday’s tragic incident at the commercial nerve centre is not one to be ignored.

A loaded fuel tanker exploded at Upper Iweka, Onitsha and a vast portion of the area has been gutted by fire on Wednesday, 16 October 2019. According to an eyewitness, buildings and business premises close to the scene of the fire, extending to Ochanja Market were affected.

What’s more shocking, as captured by a resident and reported by TheCable, was that

“Many buildings are on fire and the firefighters are nowhere to be found…” 

I must reiterate as I did in my paper exploring 51 Iweka Road in particular, the fome of Nollywood (Nigerian Movie Industry):

“..Two cities Onitsha and Nnewi (which is more like a town) serve as the backbone of the economy of Anambra state. Onitsha, on the one hand, has strong trade links with many parts of the country and with
many overseas countries. Its market is described as the largest in West Africa. On the other hand, Nnewi, which is the second most economically vibrant centre after Onitsha, has virtually become the automobile spare parts market for the nation and a fast-growing industrial centre.

In the light of this tragic incident, and the accompanying “no response” from relevant authorities to tackle the blaze and prevent its spread, I am proposing that the least that can be done at this time is a fast-paced, two-pronged approach of rebuilding the commercial hub that has being “substituting for the State” (according to Deborah Brautigam), and ameliorating the losses of protagonists in this high drama. Breaking these into their component parts, it is only appropriate to undertake these two tasks as follows:

First, compensation for losses incurred (both financial and human).

Second, ring-fenced funding for reconstruction of the commercial hub. With strategies put in place to prevent recurrence of this tragedy.

Further Reading:

Brautigam, D. (1997) Substituting for the state: institutions and industrial development in Eastern Nigeria, World Development, 25(7), 1063–1080.

Madichie, N. O., & Nkamnebe, A. D. (2010). 51 Iweka Road (Onitsha, Nigeria): could this single African address redefine business cluster development? World Review of Entrepreneurship, Management and Sustainable Development6(3), 229-243.

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