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Traders Devastated as Fire Destroys 300 Shops in Lagos Market

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A fire accident in the Ladipo plank market, Orile-Iganmu area of Lagos State on Wednesday has resulted in the destruction of at least 300 shops.

The spokesperson for the Lagos State Fire Service, Amodu Shakiru, confirmed this to PUNCH Metro in an exclusive interview.

Upon visiting the scene of the fire accident, our correspondents gathered that the shops, arranged in five lines with 75 shops each, had four of the lines destroyed by the fire.

Shop owners were seen expressing their sorrow over the extensive damage caused by the fire, which started at midnight before being extinguished through the joint efforts of the officials 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 both before and after the incident.

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, totaling 300 affected shops. There are also other attachment shops whose precise number cannot be determined.

“Although we are yet to determine the cause of the fire, it cannot be attributed to an electricity surge because there was no power supply to the market. It is likely a case of negligence on the part of the shop owners, but we are conducting our investigation to uncover the cause of the fire.”

Shakiru also revealed that efforts were ongoing to prevent the fire from escalating due to the flammability of the goods sold in the market.

“We are still taking all necessary measures to prevent any further escalation of the fire because the affected items are combustible. Planks, in particular, are flammable materials. We have started clearing the debris while ensuring that the fire does not reignite,” he said.

Meanwhile, the traders, mourning their losses, expressed fears that the Lagos State Government might seize the land after the incident.

A trader identified as Rasheed claimed that billions of naira worth of goods had been lost in the fire.

“We cannot determine how the fire started. All I know is that it started around 12:30am. People were not permitted 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 belongings have been lost,” he said.

Another trader, who wished to remain anonymous, said many traders would be pushed back into poverty and expressed concerns that the government might take over the market.

“These days, planks are expensive, so you can tell that a lot of people may return to penury. The local government’s response seems limited to bringing people to extinguish the fire. I hope they will truly help us because we have suffered a lot.

“We have five lines of shops here, and four lines were destroyed. The painful part is that our machines were burnt too. If we want to replace those machines, it will take millions of naira, and you know how it goes in Nigeria when a place gets burnt; it becomes the property of the government. I know a family that had three shops in this market, and all of them were burnt. You can see people crying because some took loans to buy these goods,” he concluded.

Efforts to get a response from the Director General of LASEMA, Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, in order to assess the extent of the damage caused by the fire proved unsuccessful, as he had not responded to calls made to his line at the time of filing this report.

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