MRS. Akinola woke up on Tuesday in good mood. She had no inkling on her way to Jakanra market in Isale-Eko, Lagos to buy goods for the new year sales that danger was lurking at the corner. She was hoping to return to her shop in Ikotun on time. She had bought some items and was in the process of buying more when she heard a loud noise. Then flames and thick smoke began to issue from a three-storey building close by. Confusion reigned as everyone fled for dear life.Mrs. Akinola was no exception. She dropped her items and scampered for safety.
â€œWe thought it was an helicopter that dropped a bomb. We looked up and down, we did not see anything. Many people were wounded in the stampede that ensued. I saw blood everywhere. It was later we got to know that it was an explosion from one of the warehouses loaded with fireworks,â€ she recounted.
According to her, it was a banger thrown inside a transformer that led to the explosion.
â€œIt has affected my business. People do not come to the market to buy fireworks as before. The government should not ban the sale of fireworks. The buyers and the sellers should just take precautions to prevent such an ugly incident. That is the solution. The products are made in China. We have different types of fireworks. Let them ban the ones that can endanger our lives,â€ she said.
Christopher Nzere, another trader in the market, said government should not ban the sale of fireworks because some people depend o the sale to feed their families.
â€œWhat they should do is to control the importation of fireworks. Some of them should be banned. The solution is let everybody be careful. If you want to play with fireworks be careful; donâ€™t do it in public places,â€ he said.
In Festus Iweobiâ€™s opinion, government should go after the importers
â€œAll these ones that are booming like guns can even kill with their noise. They are supposed to ban those loudly explosive ones. I donâ€™t buy fireworks for my children. I feel it is just a waste of money. I donâ€™t like banger, let them ban it,â€ he said.
Mrs. Ngaju Chiamaira does not like bangers. â€œIf there is a way to ban it in Lagos State, let them ban it. In Delta State, there is nothing like banger. They can ban it through the importers. If they can ban it, then next yearsâ€™ Christmas there will be nothing like banger because this is the season,â€ she said.
Mrs. Bamgboye Olabisi urged people to buy toys for their children instead of fireworks.
â€œPeople should forget about the fun of it. Although it is entertaining, I donâ€™t like it because of the hazards. I cannot use my money to buy it. I prefer to buy toys for my children.â€
Ester Nelo, a trader, said that the government should create a recreation centre where people can enjoy the fun of fireworks. â€œIt is for fun, it is once in a year. They should not buy it for under- aged people. They should create a place for people to enjoy it. Even if I bought I will not give them to my children. Every year policemen keep arresting the consumers while leaving the importers,â€ she said.
Mrs. Badru Biodun, a trader who sells fireworks, did not want the government to ban it. Instead, she want the government to provide enabling environment for the sellers. â€œLet them monitor the sellers. We want the government to provide enabling environment for us. The fireworks explosion has adversely affected our market; only those not aware of what happened are coming to buy. But it is safe to use fireworks; only consumers should not throw it inside the house. Let them not throw it on another person. Once they throw it on the ground it will blow up and quench,â€ he said.
Everybody loves bangers during Christmas, she declared . â€œEven pastors and military men buy it. They also use fireworks for military events. We have been in this business of selling fireworks for many decades such an explosion has never happened. Let them go and investigate what actually led to the explosion. It was pure sabotage. Banning bangers is not the solution,â€ she insisted.
One of the consumers who was not aware of the explosion of fireworks in Lagos said that what happened is enough for government to ban the use of fireworks.
â€œAlthough I used to be a lover of fireworks, and give to my children. They are small children about 14 years. Henceforth, I am not going to buy it again. Every year, the government says fireworks has been banned, but you still see it in the market. Blame the government, not the consumers for that. We are only wasting money on fireworks. We donâ€™t derive any benefits from it. Let the government ban it and impound any one coming to the country.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Police spokesperson, Ngozi Braide, a Deputy Superintendent of police (DSP), has said that the situation is under control.
Also, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Lateef Adeyemi Ibirogba, has dismissed rumours that the explosion had anything to do with terrorism.
Ibirogba explained that the explosion was as a result of fireworks that caught fire inside a store in the densely populated area of Lagos.
He also dismissed reports of casualty, saying: â€œThere was no casualty. The commissioner warned Lagosians to desist from the use of fireworks during the Yuletide to prevent a reoccurrence. He urged security agents in the state to ensure people comply with the order banning fireworks during this period