By Ibukun Emiola
Bodija Estate Residents Association (BERA) on Wednesday in Ibadan said about 10 people were still missing following Jan. 17 explosion in the area.
“I think it is now more towards eight and nine persons now, or even 10, whom those in the neighbourhood have talked about,” the Association’s President, Mr Muyiwa Bamgbose, said after their consultative meeting.
“We took the map of the street to them (government) and tried to account for (people) house by house to get accurate information.
“If the person was seen yesterday and was not seen today or you can’t find him again, then you need to get worried. But I believe it’s nearer 10 now,” he added.
BERA, an umbrella body of all communities in Bodija, also called for massive assistance for victims of the explosion to get back their lives.
It pointed out the need for continuous care and support for victims whose lives have changed unexpectedly since the incident.
The president said there were a lot of people who paid for their medical bills out of pocket and did not go to the designated hospitals.
“I must also confess that some hospitals, like Redeemers Clinic, were treating victims free of charge without keeping records.
“The hospitals contributed by treating people without asking for money, and some people who could afford it took themselves to their private hospitals,” Bamgbose said.
He, however, lamented improper organisation for victims in accessing hotel accommodation the government said it provided.
“Our fear is that government may end up being shortchanged. Yes, it was a chaotic situation but there should been some kind of order.
“Yes, this is the first in Ibadan and I must commend the government’s willingness and response. But there is a difference between being willing and then having the ability.
“People have worked overnight without sleeping. Even the Federal Government has taken the issue serious as all its security apparatus were deployed.
“Then, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has been working with its Oyo State counterpart. Everybody has collaborated but our best is still short of the word best,” Bamgbose said.
While commending the efforts of the Federal and Oyo State Governments, Bamgbose noted the need to learn from the explosion to better prepare for emergency operations.
“The response to the incident, though quick, was uncoordinated. This is what led to the various lapses still being experienced by victims,” he said.
He underscored the need to learn from the experience and improve on the gaps.
”This is necessary so as to improve on how to respond to emergencies which could come in any form — flood, fire outbreak and so on — and improve on best practices.”
The BERA President also disclosed that the Bodija community was from all records yet to find anyone who resided in the house where the explosion occurred.
“And that is another area of deficiency and we have taken it upon ourselves as from this meeting to know our neighbours.
”Not just to know who is living in the house but the owner as well, and what the occupants do for a living and really know ourselves,” he said.
Bamgbose decried the lack of demographic records as a problem, adding that it might be difficult to trace it even from the records of the State Housing Corporation.
“People have talked about some people running out of the house when the thing started, but now nobody knows whether they were caught up in the blast or disappeared under the radar.
“Nobody has good record,” he said.(NAN)
(Edited by Olawale Alabi