Friday, March 30, 2018
Ojota Lagos Market Fire: Traders count losses, seek govt assistance
One week after a fire outbreak that destroyed over 30 stalls and goods worth millions of naira, traders at Binukonu Ultra-Modern Market in Ojota, Lagos have continued to count their losses.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the March 23 fire which started at about 1. 30 a.m, was caused by an electrical fault. It was the third time the market was guted by fire within three years.
A NAN correspondent who visited the market on Good Friday reports that the mood at the market remained somber following the fire incident.
The affected traders were seen trading from the booth of their vehicles or under the blazing sun with large umbrellas in their bid to get business back on the feet .
As part of early efforts to reconstruct the market, workers from the Kosofe Local Government came with three garbage trucks clearing debris from the burnt stalls.
One of the affected traders, Mrs Veronica Ehveve, told NAN that she lost goods worth over N1 million in the inferno.
“The fire affected me a lot because I just bought my goods on March 22 and by the next day everything just got burnt.
“Kosofe Local Government staff, led by the Chairman, Afolabi Sofola, came to the market on March 23 to see how much was destryed by the fire.
“Many traders had just borrowed money from the cooperatives and everything is gone,” she said.
Ehveve said she had no insurance and gave a passionate plea for government assistance.
“We want the government to help us to quickly rebuild this place which will make us leave where we are and go back to our stalls; we also need financial assistance,” she said.
Another trader, Godfrey Eboh, a popular cosmetics trader, told NAN that he lost three shops and goods worth at least N3 million in the blaze.
Eboh said: “It was not easy for me recovering from the fire incident, I had borrowed money from different sources to make my business grow when the incident happened.
“I own three shops, I use two for cosmetics and one for weavon and attachments, I lost goods worth N3million in 2015 fire incident and I also lost goods worth N3million during last Friday’s fire,” he said.
Eboh, who gave an emotional plea for government assistance said: “They should please help us, the economy has been so tough for us, right now we are looking up to God”.
Mr Gbenga Fayemi, the Secretary of Binukonu Market thanked the Kosofe Local Government for its prompt response to the tragedy.
Fayemi said:“I will like to thank the chairman, Mr Afolabi Sofola for his response, health inspectors and officials from the local government have been here to survey the area and clear the debris.
“Regarding rendering financial assistance to the affected traders, Hon. Sofola said he will make an appeal to Governor Ambode and we believe and hope something positive will emerge from that.
“The market executives have also gone to the Local Government Secretariat and the palace of the Oba of Ojota to express their feelings about the fire incident,” Fayemi said.
Mr Afolabi Sofola, Chairman, Kosofe Local Government, in a telephone interview with NAN, said that the council would commence reconstruction of the market immediately after Easter.
“We will make a passionate appeal to the state government to come to the aid of the traders.
“I am also going to make it mandatory for all our markets to be insured,” the Kosofe Local Government chairman said.
The Ojota monarch, Oba Olawale Cole, told NAN that the traders needed to be cautious about their health, safety and security following the fire incident.
“I had meetings with the Iya-Oloja and the market executives to brainstorm on measures to ensure that a similar incident never happen again.
“I have spoken with the Chairman of the local government and I am going to have a meeting with him too so that the Council of Obas and Kosofe Local Government will work together to prevent a reoccurrence,” he said.
Oba Cole said that there was need for the provision of fire-fighting equipment such as fire extinguishers and fire alarms in markets.
“These equipment should mandatorily be available for immediate use to contain the fire before the emergency services arrive at the scene,” the Lagos monarch said. (NAN)