A part of the popular Watt Market in the heart of Calabar, Cross River State, has been gutted by fire.
Traders blamed the dangling wires from the electricity poles as the possible cause of the incident that occurred Thursday morning.
One of the affected traders, Orji Uchenna, said seven shops on the Hewett Street axis of the ancient market were razed.
According to him, over N25 million worth of goods have been lost to the fire.
He said when the fire service personnel arrived, they had no water and promised to return to help put out the fire, adding that they never did.
Most of the shops had wares such as bales of second-hand clothing, shoes, popularly known as Belgium products, as well as cosmetic shops and bookshops, and plastic drums.
Many of the affected traders and shop owners as well as their sympathizers were seen clearing debris and struggling to evacuate some of the salvaged items.
It was also a field day for some miscreants who were seen breaking down the burglar proof bars in the burnt shops to loot items.
One of the affected shop owners, Chief Livinus Iwuala, whose beverage shop was completely razed, said that he lacked words to explain his predicament.
He said he was looking up to God recover from his huge losses.
Chief Iwuala, who holds the traditional title of Ohjewete 1 of Mbiere Community in Imo State, said after closing early to attend Governor Bassey Edet Otu’s 64th birthday dinner as one of the invited guests, he received a phone call at about 4 am that his shop was on fire.
Special adviser to the state governor on general duties, Barrister Ekpenyong Akiba, who was on the spot to inspect the extent of damage, sympathized with the affected traders.
He advised the market leaders to compile the names of the affected traders to enable the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) to see how to ameliorate the impact of the losses.
“We really sympathize with the affected persons. We have seen that shops, goods and property have been damaged.
“We intend to engage with the power holding authorities with a view to ensuring that the dangling electric wires are rectified. Let me assure you that you are not alone in this unfortunate situation,” he said.