Barely 10 weeks after two separate fires swept through the famous Balogun Market on Lagos Island, another fire disaster came calling in the early hours of yesterday. GBUBEMI GOD’S COVENANT SNR was there and reports.
While the nation waited for INEC Chairman, Professor Atahiru Jega to formally declare the winner of the 2015 Presidential election at the early hours of yesterday (Wednesday April 1st), a mysterious fire enveloped the textile and lace section of Balogun Market.
Daily Times gathered that the fire, the third on the Lagos since January 11, 2015, started at 1 a.m. from a suspected electric short-circuit box. One of the guards at the market, who spoke to our correspondent, said there was power outage before traders closed their shops on Tuesday night. “Because of the election, many traders locked up their shops and left early; but later after midnight thick smoke and the smell of burning clothes started oozing out from some shops and so we raised an alarm. “We called the radio stations and fire service, while we tried to break the security doors to battle the fire. It was the timely arrival of fire fighters that saved the fire from spreading.” An unspecified number of shops selling imported textile materials including lace; scarf and women’s clothing were affected.
Our correspondent met a crowd of sympahisers in the area with fire trucks from the Lagos State Fire Service strategically positioned while owners of the shops were seen lamenting their losses. Two young Igbo traders who lost more than 80 bales of imported textiles could not hold back their tears as they clung to each other. Emotions were so high that journalists could not get them to narrate their ordeal.
Neighbours who were partly affected pointed to the heap of burnt clothes bales and those completely consumed by the inferno. “We don’t understand what is going on here anymore”, Stella Okafor who lost part of her wares to the inferno said. “It is like the god of fire has come to visit destruction on the market. Every time we are recovering from one fire disaster, another one will happen, and it always start when no one is in the market.
How can we be losing all goods to fire all the time?”
Nkiruka, a relation of the two traders whose goods were consumed in the inferno, said in between tears that some unseen evil forces are after Okey and Chima. “But they will not succeed in the name of Jesus. “My brothers are the family breadwinners. This is not the first time their shops are targets of fire outbreaks. The latest incident has destroyed more than N10 million worth of goods that were imported before the election. Why now?
Why my family?” she lamented. Mathias Okechukwu, one of the affected traders found his voice and told Daily Times he is completely devastated by the incident.
“They called me early in the morning that Balogun Market was on fire. It was not possible to come immediately as we were eagerly waiting for the election result, so I could not get any vehicle to arrive at the scene. Myself and other traders at Okoko prayed that the fire not get to the area of the market where our shops are situated. But when I arrived at 5 o’clock, I was shocked to find that the fire had enveloped my two shops and a few others.
“I don’t know if I will ever recover the losses but I put my trust in God”. Daily Times gathered that goods estimated at N40 million were lost to the inferno. An official of the Lagos State Fire Service, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they received an emergency call shortly after midnight and hastened to the market to fight the fire.
“The shops in the market are closely knit together but fortunately the fire was confined to an area where most of the items consisted of bales of clothes that are not highly inflammable. “Although it took three service trucks and a dozen fire fighters to contain the inferno, but in the end many of the clothing bales were affected.
On the cause of recurrent fire incidents, the officer said traders at the market are always careless when it comes to handling electrical wiring and apparatus in their shops. “The Igbo trader is his own electrician and will personally service his power generator. These fire outbreaks could be avoided if traders will heed the fire safety regulations. It is one thing for government to enact a law and another for citizens to obey them. A little discipline will make Balogun Market safe for everyone”.
It would be recalled that two mysterious fire outbreaks occurred on Lagos Island between Broads Street and Balogun Market on January11 and 16 this year.