People trooped to the Singer Market in the Kano metropolis to sympathise with Alhaji Habibu Hassan, who is said to be the most affected by the fire disaster that engulfed the facility. Hassan sat close to his warehouse, which was razed down by the inferno. He could not resist tears as the sympathisers kept reminding him of his thousands of cartons of goods worth over N100 million destroyed by the fire outbreak that lasted for eight hours.
It was said that fire engulfed the market few days after Hassan offloaded trailers of goods into his warehouse.
“My warehouse is close to the place where the fire started, that’s why everything got burnt before we arrived that night. I cannot estimate what I lost at the moment, but it is over N100million. But I must accept the destiny sent to us by the Almighty Allah. I have lost everything. There are only samples in my shop, everything was inside the warehouse,” he narrated.
Singer, which attracts thousands of people on a daily basis from different parts of the country and beyond, such as Niger Republic, is known to be the biggest commodity market in Kano.
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The fire, which started around 1:00am, is said to have emanated from one cold room managed by a woman.
Daily Trust Saturday reports that a similar incident occurred in the market last year but it was not as disastrous as this.
Some of the traders interviewed estimated that they lost at least N1billion. Over 2,000 people were affected in one way or another.
Alhaji Ibrahim, who said he lost everything to the fire, added, “Everybody is aware of the goods he had in the stores. Unfortunately, the fire outbreak came close to fasting period.”
Our correspondent who went to the market observed that although the fire was put under control since Monday morning, smoke was still coming out of the burnt structures.
Speaking on the impact of the incident on the victims, Alhaji Habibu said over 30 people relied on his shop alone, which he spent over two decades to set up. He said he rose from a porter in the market to the level of business owner with nearly N200 million worth of investment.
“Everything is almost destroyed. We lost at least 12,000 cartons of goods. Over 30 people rely directly on me, while a couple of others rely on the business indirectly, feeding their parents and families. We can’t say the exact loss, but I know it is over N100million.
“As a Muslim, I believe in destiny, so I have submitted everything to God. We pray that God would give us the best of what we have lost,” he concluded.
Findings by our correspondent revealed that a carton of Onga is sold at N6,150, while a carton of Maggi cube is sold at N15,200. As such, 12,000 cartons of Onga will cost N61. 5million. For Maggi cube, 3,000 cartons would cost N45.6m. This indicates that the trader would have lost over N107m.
Small businesses destroyed
Kabiru Sulaiman’s shop was worth nearly N10m. He is now faced with the challenge of catering for his family; and three boys working under him are affected by the incident.
Narrating his ordeal he said, “All I can say is that we are all from Allah and to him we shall return. With this fire outbreak, I don’t have anything now. From a capital of almost N10million I have now gone to zero level. I sell concentrated juice, baking powder and so on. However, we believe in destiny, whether good or bad. We pray that Allah would give us the best.
“I have two wives with eight kids, apart from my three boys in the market. I am also taking care of my parents. All of us relied on this place, today it has gone.”
He advised his fellow traders to fear Allah in their activities, and called on the leadership of the market to provide a reliable means of addressing emergencies on time, especially fire disasters.
Another trader, Dahiru Hussaini, said the incident forced him out of sick bed. He said the pain of losing his wealth was harder than that of the disease.
“I didn’t even pick a piece of Maggi from my warehouse. I lost three trailers of Maggi. However, this is our destiny and we have to accept it. Although I am sick, I had to come and see things for myself,” he said.
Before the Singer Market fire, there was another outbreak in the popular Kurmi market, where books and other valuables are sold. At least 80 shops with goods worth millions of naira were destroyed.
The spokesman of the state fire service said the outbreak was as a result of an electric spark.
Similarly, a day after the Kurmi incident, Rimi market, where furniture, spices and other condiments are sold, was hit by fire, also as a result of an electrical fault. The fire destroyed 19 shops and one mosque.
The chairman of the market, Alhaji Musa Tijjani Sarkin Kasuwa, told Daily Trust Saturday that the traders suffered huge loss; and over 20 shops were razed.
“This incident came at a time when people are battling with what to eat as a result of the naira redesign policy of the federal government, so there is a need for the government to support the victims,” he said.
We may consider banning electricity in Singer market – Management
Speaking to Daily Trust Saturday on the incident and what the management is doing to curb the menace, the chairman of Singer Market, Alhaji Zubairu Uba Yakasai, said they may consider banning electricity from the market. He urged traders to consider using solar light.
Represented by the director of works in the market, Bashir Umar Hakimi, the management said traders were not complying with the order to put all electrical appliances off after each day’s transactions, pointing out that every fire outbreak in the market was caused by electrical fault.
“Honestly, our next plan is to ban the use of electricity in our markets because people have been losing their wealth as a result of fire outbreaks caused by electrical faults. Traders should exercise patience and resort to using solar systems as it is less risky,” Hakimi said.
He said the market had access roads where firefighters could easily move in the market without delay or interruption. He called on the state government to support the victims with relief.
317 shops affected, assessment ongoing – SEMA
Meanwhile, the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) said the fire outbreak in Singer Market engulfed 317 permanent and temporary shops, while property and goods worth millions of naira were lost.
The executive secretary of the agency, Comrade Sale Jili, told Daily Trust Saturday that they had commenced an assessment of the incident, and very soon, they would reveal the estimated amount of money lost.
“We haven’t estimated the magnitude of loss, but we have traced the number of shops affected. There are 97 permanent shops and 220 temporary ones that were totally razed. We are now compiling a comprehensive report that would reveal the magnitude of losses. After that, we will forward it to the state government and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for them to get relief,” Jili said.
He called on traders and other people in the state to ensure that they put off all electrical appliances when leaving their shops, offices or homes. He added that traders should establish surveillance committees that would go round to ensure compliance of laid down rules on electrical appliances.
Being an election season, politicians, especially gubernatorial candidates, have continued to visit and sympathise with the traders. The presidential and gubernatorial candidates of the New Nigeria People Party (NNPP), Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and Abba Kabir Yusuf, were the first to visit the market.
Also, the gubernatorial candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Shaaban Ibrahim Sharasa, promised to give the traders two trailers of cement as a relief. Candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Sadiq Wali, and the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Bala Gwagwarwa, were also at the scene of the incident.
When Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje visited the market along with his entourage to sympathise with the traders, he described the three incidents as a national disaster. The governor, who set up a committee to review the disasters, later announced a donation of N250m for the victims of the fire outbreaks.