Traders at the Araromi Auto Spare Parts Market in Ibadan, Oyo State have appealed to the federal government for financial assistance over the recent fire that gutted their goods.
The market traders told the Controller-General (CG) of the Federal Fire Service, Mr Liman Ibrahim, who visited the market to commiserate with the traders.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Araromi Market at Agodi-Gate, Ibadan, popularly described as the largest auto spare parts market in the city, was gutted by fire on April 2, at about 11:00 p.m., with traders losing shops and goods worth millions of naira.
Alhaja Hamdalat Lawal, the Chairperson, Oyo State Market Association, appreciated the visit of the CG as she pleaded for the assistance of the Federal and the Oyo State Governments to revive the market.
Lawal admitted that sensitisation had been ongoing in the market on how to prevent and curb fire with several techniques including the use of fire extinguishers and blankets.
“Over time, we had been trained and sensitised on how to curb fire.
” I had told those who sell food items that they must have fire extinguishers in their shops as we had also been taught on how to use blankets to put out small fire.
“We know there are different types of fire but we can’t control all; not to talk of fire from electric poles that caused the most recent one.
“We urge the fire service to tell us what to do when there is high voltage in the market because we experience that a lot and it damages a lot of things and causes power surge.
“We can’t push aside the power generating companies but the fire outbreak at the market was too much and was caused by problems associated with light.”
Lawal also urged the state government to provide an extended market space for construction due to the high population of traders currently occupying the market.
“It was very tough for the fire service personnel to gain access, because the market stalls were too tight and close to one another. That is why we need space because if there was free space they would have been able to quench the fire,” she said.
Another member of the association, Mrs Labake Awan, said that there was need for boreholes and more fire fighting trucks at the fire stations in Oyo State.
According to her, one of the things that had complicated fire fighting in the state is the rowdy crowd at fire scenes during outbreaks.
“People block everywhere causing traffic and inaccessibility of the road which worsens the situation and we need this to be corrected,” she said.
Alhaji Waidi Azeez, Baba Oloja ( Male market leader) of Araromi Market, sought financial intervention from the Federal Government, adding that some well meaning Nigerians had assisted the market traders.
“The Oyo State Governor, Mr Seyi Makinde, gave us N50million to reconstruct the market and someone else gave us N5million.
“Another brought a trailer load of cement while another person gave us N500,000,” he said.
Ibrahim appealed to the state government to put into consideration good accessible roads leading into the market during reconstruction to enable easy and more efficient firefighting.
“When this fire happened, firefighters did not gain easy access to fight the fire which made it to spread fast because of the components of goods sold in the market.
“The items are fuel burning materials; tyres, gas and combustibles, so this aided the spread of the fire.”
He said that the fire would have been contained at that early stage if the firefighting personnel had easy access to where the fire started.
“Unfortunately, it took time before they were able to gain access from behind the market through the fence of another agency which is not proper.
“I am sure there is a master plan for this market and if the master plan is abused, the consequence is what we are experiencing now.”
Speaking, the CG said that there was the need to revisit the master plan of the market so as to ensure proper house keeping, internal road network and market segregation.
“But with what I have seen here, all these things are lacking and it is unfortunate this fire incident occurred,” he said.
According to him, “Markets should be segregated according to groups but this market is as good as not having one because if there is no sanity to it, then the aim of segregation is defeated.”
The CG said that the way forward is to engage the various market associations, the state and federal fire services alongside the state government to ensure proper sensitisation in markets within the state.
“Your requests and my observations will be forwarded to the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, to help improve the market.
“Ninety nine per cent causes of the fire are as a result of human errors. If we put in more care, I am sure we will be able to reduce the number of fire outbreaks,” he said.
Ibrahim said that from the information received, there was the need to dispatch a team of investigators from either Lagos or Abuja to ascertain the cause of the fire.
“Anybody can say this is the cause of the fire but we need to be certain before we tell members of the public the supposed cause of fire,” he said.
Ibrahim stated that the Federal Government had in March approved the acquisition of 96 modern firefighting trucks to help reduce the impact of fire infernos.
“We are going beyond the states to senatorial headquarters so we urge the state governments to rejuvenate the state fire stations in other to effectively place the equipment there and to fight fire at the grassroots level,” he said.