Over the years, Lagos has had more than its fair share of fire disasters involving markets in the state that a new one seemingly would not generate much anxiety except for those directly affected.
However, the same cannot be said of the fire that gutted the very popular rice and vegetable oil market in Daleko, near Mushin on Sunday. The fire which started in the middle of the night when traders had left for their various homes, razed about 120 shops stocked with wares as a result which valuables worth billions were destroyed.
Though the timely intervention of men of Lagos State Fire Services prevented the fire from causing further damages, but many affected traders are today counting their losses. When Vanguard Metro visited the market on Monday, several distraught traders were seen recounting their bitter experiences.
Some of them, however, had cause to thank God that the incident did not happen during the day when a disastrous stampede was more likely on account of the fact that Daleko market is usually busy and jam parked with people at such time.
A trader popularly called Mama Segun, was seen angrily stamping her feet on the ground as she lamented the loss of the loan she obtained through her LAPO and invested in her business just the weekend before the incident. ‘’What will I tell the company now? I feel like committing suicide.
Well, only God knows the best’’ she said resignedly. Another trader, Alhaji Segun Onitiri, was heard shouting: ‘’Heh! I’m finished o!! What will I say to my bank ? My children have just resumed school”.
Yet, another trader, Madam Ngozi Okpara, said she had planned to re-stock her shop last Monday and left the whole money for this purpose in the shop. She burst into tears as she lamented in Igbo: ‘’Chimeee, efuolam, Onye ge nyerem aka O…” (My God o, who will help me now).
Sympathisers were seen everywhere helping the traders in clearing the debris and rubble from the razed shops.
The traffic situation at the market was tight as people trooped in and out to catch a glimpse of the scene.
Meanwhile, during her visit to console the traders, Iyaloja General, Mrs Folashade Tinubu-Ojo, she assured them that arrangements are already in place to arrest such happening in market places. She prayed that such will never happen again and also urged the traders to cooperate with the state government, who, she said, will soon commence enumeration and assessment of damages.
Hindering rescue efforts
Folasade advised traders to desist from blocking the road with their wares and vehicles as this will always hinder rescue efforts during emergencies.
General Manager, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, Mr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, who also visited the scene, assured that the State government will soon commence enumeration and assessment in order to ascertain the extent of damages and to assuage traders of their losses. Osanyintolu assured that an emergency management committee will be set up in various markets in the State to forestall such occurrences.
Both Osanyintolu and Ojo said the incident was likely to have been caused by electrical upsurge in one of the shops.