The Lagos State Fire Service spokesperson, Amodu Shakiru, confirmed this in an exclusive interview with PUNCH Metro.
The scene of the fire accident revealed that the shops were arranged in five rows, with four of the rows being affected by the fire.
Many of the shop owners were seen expressing their sorrow over the extensive damage caused by the fire. The fire started at midnight on Wednesday but was eventually extinguished through the combined efforts of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency and the Lagos Fire Service.
Shakiru dismissed speculation that the fire was caused by an electrical surge, stating that there was no power supply to the market hours before and after the incident.
He said, “There are five rows of shops in the market, with four of them destroyed by the fire. Each row contained an average of 75 shops, totaling 300 shops. There are also other attached shops whose numbers we cannot ascertain. Although we are yet to determine the cause of the fire, it cannot be attributed to an electricity surge as there was no power supply to the market during that time. Similar to most fire incidents, it is likely a result of negligence on the part of the shop owners, but we are conducting an investigation to uncover the cause of the fire.”
Shakiru further disclosed that efforts were still ongoing to prevent the fire from escalating due to the inflammable nature of the goods in the market.
He said, “We are taking all necessary measures to contain the fire and prevent further escalation due to the combustible items affected. Planks are flammable materials, so we have already started removing the debris and ensuring that the fire does not reignite.”
Meanwhile, the traders affected by the fire expressed their concern that the Lagos State Government might take over the land after the incident.
One trader, Rasheed, claimed that billions of naira worth of goods were lost in the fire.
He said, “We cannot ascertain how the fire started. All I know is that it 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 costs N1,800 and some even cost N2,500, so billions have been lost in this fire. The saddest part is that some people restocked their shops just yesterday (Tuesday), and now all their properties have been lost.”
Another trader, who preferred to remain anonymous, expressed concerns that many traders would be pushed back into poverty and that the government might acquire the market.
He stated, “These days, planks are expensive, so it is likely that many people will return to poverty. The local government’s response seems inadequate. They only deployed people to extinguish the fire. I hope they will genuinely assist us because we have suffered significant losses. We have five rows of shops here, and four of them were destroyed. Our machines were also burnt. To replace those machines, we would need millions of naira. Once a place gets burnt in Nigeria, it usually becomes the property of the government. I personally know a family that had three shops in this market, and all of them were burnt. People are crying because some of them took loans to purchase these goods.”
As of the time of filing this report, attempts to reach the Director General of LASEMA, Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, to ascertain the extent of the damage caused by the fire were unsuccessful.
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