Traders in Edo State markets, whose shops and goods were destroyed by fire outbreaks in some markets in the state, have said they were assisted to overcome their misfortune by their children.
Four markets across Benin metropolis between late 2019 and 2020 were engulfed in fire outbreaks leading to the loss of property worth hundreds of millions of naira destroyed in the inferno.
Niger Delta Trust reports that Oliha Market, Satana Market, Ekiosa Market and Oba Market, all within the metropolis were gutted by fire at different times between 2019 and 2020.
While those who are back to the markets said they were able to return with the help of their children, others said they were waiting for any help that would come their way.
When our reporter visited Oba market, the traders were seen undergoing screening at the market association’s office.
A trader, Mrs Elizabeth Ofone, said she was helped by her children, who gave her money to restart her business.
“I sell fowls at the market, but now I have nothing because all of them got burnt to ashes including the money I made that day which I left in the shop.
“I was hospitalised for two weeks after the incident.
“This cage was built by my children and they gave me money to start again.
“They said they do not want me to develop high blood pressure.”
Ofone, who said she was tired of talking to the media as all the interviews she did in the past amounted to nothing, called on government to come to their assistance.
The chairman, Fowl Sellers Association at Oba market, Stella Oni, said she lost over N1 million to the fire incident.
“All that we have was lost to the fire and you can see the place for yourself.
“We are starting afresh and all these things you see were done by our children who said they do not want us to be sitting at home and start going to the hospital over the trauma.
“I lost over a million naira to the fire.
“I had five cages of fowls and each of them contained over N250,000 worth of fowls.
“We are begging government to come to our aid because we can’t take loan.’’
She said other traders who did not have grown up children were looking for where to borrow money to restart their businesses.
One of such traders is Mrs Celin Ewere, who sells clothes and said she was living by the grace of God.
“I am a widow with seven children.
“Shortly before the fire incident, I lost my husband. Presently, I am at zero level.
“Before the fire incident I borrowed N300,000 to stock.
“I didn’t sell before the fire incident and everything got burnt.”
She said she found it difficult to feed her family because she did not have another source of income.
Another trader, Mrs Vera Afona, said she has not been able to return to market due to lack of funds.
“Since my shop got burnt, I have not been able to do anything.
“I don’t have money to start my clothes business as all my goods were completely destroyed.
Mrs Afona, who is a widow with six children, said she was at the market “just to while away the time.”
“Government said it would help us but we are still waiting for the help.
“I was selling clothes but I lost everything to the fire.’’
She called on government to come to her aid as she has nowhere to run to.
Speaking to our reporter, the Secretary of Edo State Market Women Association (Oredo chapter), Mrs Okojie Maureen, said the state governor had, during his visit to the market, promised to assist the traders affected by the fire.
“All the traders you are seeing here lost goods to the fire.
“So we are conducting a verification to ascertain the bank through which the money would be disbursed to them.
“With this we want to make sure that the money gets to the affected traders.”
The spokesman to the Edo State government, Crusoe Osagie, said the government was committed to fulfilling the promise made to the market women.
“What we are doing is to ensure that the succour reached the real traders who were affected by the fire incident.
“We have been taking our time to vet the list submitted to us to ensure that the people actually affected are those on the list.”
He said the process of determining the actual traders was being concluded, adding that “In the next couple of weeks the traders would start receiving support through their various market associations.”