No fewer than 300 shops were destroyed in a fire accident that occurred in the Ladipo plank market, Orile-Iganmu area of Lagos State on Wednesday.
The spokesperson for the Lagos State Fire Service, Amodu Shakiru, confirmed this in an interview.
Our correspondents who visited the scene of the fire accident gathered that the shops which were arranged in lines of 75 shops each, had five lines with four of the lines destroyed by the fire.
Many of the shop owners were seen lamenting the extent of the damage caused by the fire which started at midnight Wednesday before being quelled through a combined effort of the officials of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency and men of the Lagos Fire Service.
According to Shakiru, the fire was not caused by an electrical surge as speculated because there was no power supply to the market hours before the incident and hours after it had commenced.
He said, “There are five lines of shops in the market, four of the lines were destroyed by the fire. Each of the lines contained an average of 75 shops which sum the total shops affected to 300. There are other attachment shops which numbers cannot be ascertained.
“Although we are yet to ascertain the cause of the fire, it can’t be blamed on an electricity surge because there was no power supply to the market hours before the fire broke out and hours after it. Just like most fire incidents, I think it will be a case of negligence on the part of the shop owners but we are conducting our investigation to unravel the cause of the fire.”
Shakiru disclosed further that efforts were still in top gear to ensure an escalation of the fire due to the inflammatory nature of goods being sold in the market.
“We are still doing everything necessary to curtail further escalation of the fire because the items that are affected are combustible. You know that plank is a flammable material. We have begun evacuation of the debris while ensuring that the fire did not surge again,” he said.
Meanwhile, the traders while lamenting the loss that the fire had caused them expressed fear that the Lagos State Government may take over the land after the incident.
A trader, who identified himself as Rasheed, claimed that billions of naira had been lost due to the fire.
“One thing we cannot ascertain is how the fire started. All I know is that the fire started around 12:30am. People were not allowed to sleep in the market so I wonder what happened and how the fire started.
“Each wood cost N1,800 and some of them cost N2,500, so billions have been lost in this fire. The saddest thing is that some people just restocked their shops yesterday (Tuesday) and now all their properties have been lost,” he said.
Another trader who pleaded anonymity said many traders would return to poverty adding that there were fears that the government might take over the market.
“These days, planks are expensive so you can tell that a lot of people may go back to penury. The good thing is that lives were not lost at all. The major question is what is the local government doing about it? They just brought people that will quench the fire. I hope they will really help us because we have lost a lot.
“We have five lines of shops here and four lines got destroyed. The painful part is that our machines got burnt too. If we want to purchase those machines, we will need millions of naira to do that and you know how Nigeria can be once a place gets burnt; it becomes the property of the government. I know of a family that had three shops in this market and all of them got burnt. You can see people crying because some people took loans to purchase these goods,” he concluded.
Efforts to get the reaction of the Director General of LASEMA, Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, in order to ascertain the worth of the damage caused by the fire proved abortive as he was yet to respond to calls made to his line as of the time of filing this report.
Madukwe B. Nwabuisi is an accomplished journalist renown for his fearless reporting style and extensive expertise in the field. He is an investigative journalist, who has established himself as a kamikaze reporter.