Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
A midnight fire has razed over 100 stored at the spare parts market at Uwelu in Egor Local Government area of Edo State.
The fire was said to have destroyed goods worth hundreds of millions of naira as some of the affected traders were said to have just returned from a market trip where they went to buy some goods.
Sections of the market affected by fire include lines where Mercedes Benz, Mazda, Ford and Toyota parts are sold.
Some of the traders collapsed when they visited the scene as one of them was said to have almost ran into the raging fire but was stopped.
The fire was said to have started at about 11.45p.m. on Monday night and lasted till 4 a.m. but for the efforts of the Fire Service men from the University of Benin and the Nigerian Army.
When journalists visited the spare parts market, sympathisers were seen around, while the victims were being consoled.
One of the victims who deals on fuel and oil pumps, Daniel Okungbowa said he lost about N4 million worth of goods to the fire, saying he was still confused on what next steps to take.
Another victim, Festus Maxwell Osaeruoname, wondered how the fire spread rapidly when there was no power supply to the market.
According to him, “We are yet to ascertain what actually happened that led to the fire. We could not remove anything from our shops.
“Many boys affected just got freedom from their masters to open their own shops. They are yet to repay the loans they took from various banks.”
Chairman of Spare Parts Dealers’ Association, Mr. Ibie Osaretin Augustine, said the fire incident has compounded the low patronage they are currently witnessing due to bad roads that lead to the market.
Augustine said the four security guards hired by the traders were being questioned by the police.
He said he received an anonymous call that the market was on fire and when he called the security personnel on ground, he was told that it was somebody burning something in the next street.
“When the security man told me somebody was burning something, I told him to check properly and he told me it was the line where my shop is located that was on fire.
“I called the Edo Fire Service but they did not come. The entire market would have been razed if fire men had not come from UNIBEN and the Nigerian Army.
“For now, we do not suspect any foul play but we have held meeting to appease those affected and stood any suicidal attempt.
“We beg the state government to rebuild the market because we are using loan from micro-finance bank,” he said.