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Many market fires spread pain, penury

Infernos across many markets in the country have been a cause of concern as traders count losses in property and cash. In the past two…

Infernos across many markets in the country have been a cause of concern as traders count losses in property and cash. In the past two months, a number of markets have experienced various forms of fire incidents, leaving traders in great loss.


Even before the smouldering ruins left by a fire that razed a GSM market in Maiduguri, Borno State, stopped burning, another inferno ravaged another market faraway in Nasarawa State.

Within a space of one month, the experience around many markets across the country has been that of sadness and extreme loss as a gale of fire incidents wiped out people’s means of livelihood.

The Chief Fire Officer of Nasarawa State Fire Service, Alhaji Dogara Dalhatu, said the fire started from a tailor’s shop who forgot to unplug an electric iron and when public power was restored, it ignited a fire at 11:39 pm on Thursday.

According to him, the Fire Service personnel contained the fire by 1:23 am. Dalhatu said twelve shops were razed while some stalls were affected but the total cost affected by the inferno was not yet determined.

Similarly, Chairman of Nasarawa Eggon Local Government Area, Alhaji Danladi Idris Odasco while commiserating with the traders urged them to always unplug all electrical appliances when closing for the day to avoid future occurrence.

Lagos, however, has been at loss thrice as three separate fire incidences occurred in the state under two weeks. The first fire incident which occurred at Balogun Market on Lagos Island on Tuesday, November 5 was probably one of the worst disasters the state has experienced in recent times. Goods worth millions of naira were destroyed in the inferno as fire-fighters battled for over six hours to contain the raging fire.

Due to the many inflammable and hazardous items stored in the shops, the fire continued to rage as emergency officials tried to put it out. Shop owners looked with bewilderment as everything they laboured to gather went up in flames within hours.

It was at Brasas Plaza, a five-storey building on Martins Street that the fire broke out. The plaza was stocked with clothes, bags and other imported items believed to be “highly inflammable” which contributed to the gravity of the fire.

As the plaza was engulfed with fire and the firefighters battling to put it out, another inferno broke out at another complex on Dosumu Street, about 500 meters to Martins. Both fires were later put out even as activities in the market were paralyzed for the day.

Two days after, Oko Baba Plank market at Ebute-Metta also went up in flames, here traders also lost huge sums of money to the fire incident. The fire also extended to five other buildings within the area.

Entering another week, was another fire incident waiting to happen at the popular Tejuosho market in Yaba. On Thursday, a three-storey building near the market was gutted by fire. It was learnt that the fire started from one of the rooms in the buildings following an electric spark and the fire extended to other parts of the building.

However, the prompt response from the Lagos State Fire Service, the Federal Fire Service and other emergency responders prevented the fire from spreading to other nearby buildings particularly the Tejuosho market complex.

The Director-General of LASEMA, Dr. Olufemi Oke-Osanyitolu said the location of the markets is a source of worry. He said it took emergency officials hours to access the site of the fire due to the way and manner shops were erected.

“It is a situation which presented peculiar difficulties to responders to access the source of the fire in order to effectively put it out on time,” he lamented.

Meanwhile, following the frequency of fire disasters in market areas, the LASEMA said it has commenced massive sensitization of market men and women on the imperative of disaster management. He said many communities were being sensitized to support the government in disaster management which he described as “everyone’s business.”

Undeterred by the incident, work has resumed at the section of the market

In Jos, a September midnight fire had engulfed a section of Timber B in Laranto market popularly referred to as Katako in Jos North local government area of Plateau State.

The timber section of the market is an industry where all manner of woodwork is fabricated. Thousands of timbers are stored and various carpentry fabrications take place.

The fire had affected 36 shops and goods worth over N31million were lost, according to the Chairman of Timber B, Alh. Yusuf Aliyu.

Being Plateau’s largest and one of the oldest markets, Laranto has about 32 sections including the timber shed, grain section, Kola nuts sections as well as sections of fairly-used cloth popularly called Gwanjo in Hausa. The market is no stranger to fire incidents since its establishment almost 44 years ago.

Mahmud Adam Abduallah, the Secretary of Timber B section while breaking down the lost from the fire said timber worth N26 million and drilling, sawing, turning and planning machines worth N5 million as well as office items worth N950, 000 were lost in the fire.

Not deterred however, 48 hours after the incident, the carpenters and wood merchants who were the main victims of the fire incident had commenced reconstructing make-shift shops and have today fully returned to their lives. But Daily Trust Saturday gathered that most of the victims are struggling as they have to rely on others to get jobs done.

The Plateau State Government through a delegation led by the Secretary to the Government of the State, Prof. Danladi Atu had commiserated with the victims but since then, Daily Trust Saturday gathered from the market union that nothing has been done to alleviate the plight of the victims.

Chairman of Laranto market, Eze Echezona had on the SGS visit handed a request to the governor through the SGS for assistance for the victims to get back on their feet as well as ensuring the market gets the central switch to forestall future fire incidents.

However two months since the incident, Abdallah told Daily Trust Saturday  that the plight of the victims of the incident has not been ameliorated and no formal communication has reached them as to whether the governor has received their letter or not.

Unfortunately, fire incidences in Anambra State have become a recurrence that hardly any year passes without record of fire destroying market.

In the last five years, there have been many major fire incidences that destroyed shops, markets, claimed lives and

property worth billions of naira. About five years ago, a petrol tanker explosion occurred at Upper Iweka axis on Sunday May 31, 2015, another occurred on February 15, 2017. But all these seem like child’s play to the fire of October 16, 2019 affecting two popular markets in Onitsha-Ochanja and Iweka. It was caused a petrol tanker that spilled its content.

The fire affected many shops along Iweka shopping plaza and Ochanja markets and damaged properties worth billions of naira. The inferno moved through the drainages to far away shops. Some of the shops built near the gutters and water channels were burnt by the fire which raged on for hours before it was put out by firefighters.

Some of the traders who narrated they could not salvage what they had laboured for years.

The Chairman of Ochanja Central Market, Mr Nelson Ojukwu said five shopping plazas were razed. Ojukwu called on the Anambra State government to provide the markets with fire-fighting trucks to alleviate the sufferings and losses the traders incur during fire incidents in the state.

In Maiduguri, Borno State, the popular GSM market was gutted by fire with an estimated N30million cash burnt and goods worth N300m destroyed.

A 26-year-old entrepreneur, Mohammed Tahir, said he lost all his source of livelihood in the incident. Tahir was just one out of about a thousand victims who, in one way or the

other lost their means of livelihood as a result of the fire incident that ripped the biggest mobile phones and other accessories in Maiduguri metropolis.

The President of the Vendors, Engineers and Technicians Association (VETA) in the state, Mustapha Isa Jiddum

(Amaros), said over N300 million was lost in fire.

The state Governor Professor Babagana Zulum, donated N60million to the victims to cushion their losses.

An Operational Officer with the Borno Fire Service, Mbursa Pindar Iza, said the state has had its share of fire incidences as more than a dozen had been recorded recently.

He said nine fire incidents occurred at different IDP camps across the local governments this year.

However, apart from the GSM market fire, there were incidences at Gamboru market in 2012 and 2015 and at Monday Market Maiduguri in 2016, said Iza.

Mr Iza added eight more fire outbreak incidents that caused huge loss in terms of business, relationship and other things.

The senior fireman, who attributed causes of fire outbreak to carelessness called on general public to ensure they switch off all electrical appliances or other connecting cables, while going to bed, leaving home or offices.

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