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A former Minister of Aviation, Chief Osita Chidoka, has commiserated with the victims of Wednesday’s tanker fire accident in Onitsha, Anambra.

Chidoka said on Thursday in Awka described the accident as painful and regrettable.

“It was indeed a black Wednesday in Onitsha, Anambra. The loss of lives, property and businesses as a result of the accident is both painful and regrettable.

“I want to express deep condolences to the families that lost their loved ones in the accident, including that of a mother and her baby and the people that lost properties and businesses.

“I identify with them at this moment of grief and pray that the almighty God will console them,” he said in a in statement by Mr Ikechukwu Okafor, his Special Adviser on Media Relations.

Chidoka, however, observed that casualties resulting from such accidents in Onitsha were always high because of the poor planning of the area.

Chidoka, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain in the state, called for more government’s attention and citizen engagement in the area of urban planning and public safety.

“Onitsha is an ungoverned space; divided by artificial boundaries of local governments and unattended to by a visionless state.

“It lacks coherent development plan and is not loved by residents who lack a sense of community.

“The fire on Wednesday is symptomatic of deep seated urban challenges,” he said.

“As markets shutdown for prayers and sanitation, they should also shutdown for an hour or two every week for fire drills.

“The people can arrange for a fire survey from Federal Fire Service and modify their markets to enhance emergency response.

“There is need for government to engage citizens and market leadership on issues of safety,” he said.

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