James Sowole in Akure
No fewer than 10 entrepreneurs have lost goods said to be worth over N300 million by yesterday night when fire gutted shops at Ijomu area of Akure, the Ondo State capital.
One of the victims, simply identified as Alhaji, is currently on admission in a private hospital having experienced heart attack when he saw his two medicine stores engulfed by fire.
Alhaji, the owner of Choices Medicine and Supermarket Stores at No. 20 Ijomu Street, Akure, Akure South Local Government Area of the state, was said to have unloaded two trucks of drugs into his two stores in the same complex last Saturday night.
Other occupants of the complex are dealers, fashion designers, electrical and electronics dealers.
Mrs. Modupe Daramola, a fashion designer in the complex, lost three industrial sewing and embroidery machines and four sewing machines to the fire.
She disclosed that she also lost a heavy duty power generating set and a refrigerator to the inferno besides several fabrics belonging to her numerous customers.
Also, Sola Omorege, one of the youth leaders in the area, said it took their efforts to put out the fire, though they could not rescue any of the items in the complex.
He lamented that the fire service in the state couldn’t help when they went to their office on a motorbike due to lack of functional equipment.
An Akure High Chief, AFolabi Fayehun, who is the Edemo of Akure kingdom, described the incident as unfortunate.
Fayehun said the nonfunctional of fire services in the state capital made the loss to be much.
The chief said he contacted the Akure fire service through a firefighter in Ilesa, but they complained that they had no functional fire equipment and could not help.
He also contacted the Akure Airport Fire Service but was told it was out of their jurisdiction except the governor requested for their service.
The high chief lamented that several millions of naira worth of goods and properties were lost to the fire incident in the state capital in particular due to non-availability of firefighting equipment.
Condemning the lackadaisical attitude of the state government to the series of fire incidents in the state, Fayehun said: “It’s supposed to be a case of once bitten twice shy. When we experienced this kind of incident at Oba Nla in the next street a couple of months ago, the governor was there. I think there’s need for the government to have a firefighting equipment on ground because this is becoming a recurring situation where people are losing multimillion naira worth of goods and properties, and that’s hampering the economy of the state.
“This is supposed to be social service that the government should render to the populace.
“When I was talking to the member of the state House of Assembly representing this constituency, he said it was the government that should send that kind of bill to the Assembly, and that it would be approved. I then asked why he couldn’t send it himself.
“Eventually if this kind of equipment is approved for the use of the people, it is not going to be the state capital alone that will benefit from it.
“If the governor appropriates about N600million to fight fire incident in the state, it’s not too much. If FUTA could have fire equipment, likewise Akure Airport, why can’t the state have functional fire equipment? This is unfair. If there’s fire outbreak in Akure, do we have to wait for Ilesa to come and rescue us?”