Safety And Emergency: Watt Market Fire On My Mind BY PRINCEWILL ODIDI

In Breaking News, Columnists, Health, National News, Opinion, Reports

By CrossRiverWatch Admin

One reason why services are poorly delivered today in Nigeria is because government is given the responsibility to do everything. Democracy was not really designed to work this way.

I read that fire service had no water and or petrol to tackle the fire in Watt market yesterday. Part of it is corruption, lack of funding or people just don’t know their jobs. Go and check the budgets of fire departments in the state and federal you will be amazed. You see, at the end of the day we all suffer because we gave government too much responsibility when the government itself is ineffective.

There are people who inbox me saying why do you always compare Nigeria with developed countries? My answer is that some countries are called developed because they do things differently and it works. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, let us just copy what they do, how they do it, we will definitely get it right.

In developed climes, in most cases it is not the government that funds emergency and safety directly, the people do it indirectly through small levies. The government gathers these levies and channel them to the proper executing agencies. We cannot sit down waiting for federal allocations before we can manage our emergencies like fire.

This is how it is done in developed countries. Whenever you pay your phone bills or purchase telephone recharge cards, a small percentage is deducted. Example, for every one thousand Naira recharge card, just ten Naira is deducted into the Emergency Safety and environment account. The telecommunications companies remit these payments monthly. The funds are not used for any other thing than emergencies.

The people will not feel this insignificant deductions from their phone recharge cards, but this amount at the end of the day because it is collected from so many people runs into millions. It is remitted by the phone companies directly to emergency departments and sanitation units of the city.

At the end of the day, since so many people are buying recharge cards daily, the amounts accruing to the government is so much that the government can afford to fund emergency call centers, brand new fire and emergency trucks can easily be bought, the streets will always be clean because evacuators will have equipment and their staff always paid on time.

When our leaders visit foreign countries, they spend time eating in porsche restaurants and shopping instead of attempting to learn how the white man gets it right with service delivery. We cannot continue to pretend all is well, what it takes to do it right is so insignificant.

I sympathize with shop owners in Watt market. For some of them life will never be the same again. I sympathize with them more because in Nigeria we do not even have insurance programs to cover fire emergencies for business owners, even if we do, they will not pay and they state will do nothing to enforce compliance and remittance because even the state system is compromised against the people.

Let me raise these alert for Calabar residents, be on alert that more dangerous than the Watt market fire, Calabar town sits on a major time bomb. What do I mean?

There’s a gas pipeline running underneath the city from the calabar seaport to the airport. It transports Aviation fuel. Anything can happen. The day that pipeline accidentally breaks and guts on fire, without an effective fire service station equipped enough with water and chemicals to handle gas flares of such magnitude, the entire city of Calabar may be razed to the ground.

What bothers me is whether our leaders have the capacity to implement development footprints, or whether they just don’t care, or whether they are clueless on how governance works remains a mute question.

As I have said previously, development is no magic, it is smart thinking and policy effectiveness. Until our political leaders decide to do things right, we still have a long way to go as a people.

Princewill Odidi, a Social Commentator writes from Atlanta USA.

NOTE:Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Princewill Odidi, and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.

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