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Traders count losses as Katangowa Market goes up in flames

...We lost millions in 40 burnt shops

By Amidu Arije

Monday, August 19, will remain memorable for traders at the popular Katangowa market, Abule-Egba, Lagos. It was a day that early morning fire gutted a section of the market, leaving over 40 shops burnt to ashes.

The fire incident, which occurred about 3am while the various shop owners had since left for their homes to rest and prepare for another business later that morning. But alas, majority of them woke up to the sad news of the fire incident that consumed the shops that were fully stocked with bales of clothes.

Giving account of the incident when The Nigerian Xpress visited the scene, the Market leader, Iyaloja, Mrs. Taiwo Adeleke, said the cause of the fire incident was due to electrical fault in one of the shops affected by the fire.

“Nobody caused the fire incident; it was the power supply by energy company that caused it. When it happened, the Mallams, who were around were called for help and they did their best but couldn’t stop the fire and we had to call the fire fighters to the rescue.

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“We lost so much of our clothing materials in the incident. It was just on Sunday that they offloaded bales of clothes into the different shops that were gutted by the fire. About 45 shops were affected by this fire incident. Millions of Naira was lost because the clothes were in bales and some bales cost between N80,000 to N100,000 each. Some of the burnt shops had like ten bales; all the shops involved in this have many bales of clothes stocked there. We were waiting for the bail owners to come for their bales on Monday when the ugly fire incident happened and everything cloth in the shops went in flames,” “ the Iyaloja disclosed.

She urged all and sundry to always put off their electric appliances before leaving their shops to prevent future occurrence.

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“I advise all the traders, who have electric wires and power source in their shops to always make sure they switch off their electrical appliances before leaving their shops, because it was as a result of electric spark that the fire incident occurred. Power supply in this country is epileptic and can damage many things as can be seen in this fire outbreak,” she said.

A shop owner whose shop was involved in the fire outbreak, Mrs. Omolola Bello, was devastated by the  incident. She said it came as a surprise to her, as such had never happened in the history of the market.

“It was in the middle of the night that they called us that there was fire outbreak in our shops. I personally called the fire fighters number to come to our rescue. Unfortunately, I dialed Abuja emergency number; they were the ones who gave me the Lagos number. I then called them. They kept telling me they were coming; they didn’t get here until around 4:30am when the fire had gone beyond control. The mallams around us here really tried to prevent further spread of the fire to other buildings. If not for them, it would have been worse than this.

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“I have two shops where I sell drinks. I had two freezers that I used in freezing my drinks inside the shops; everything has gone now. I am left with no option, no one to run to for help. We are only praying to God Almighty to assist us and also the government should please come to our aid,” she stated.

Resigning to fate, Mrs. Bello said the traders had taken up reconstructing the shops themselves, as they said waiting for government for help may take longer time. So, they decided to go on building lock up shops themselves, pending any intervention from government.

“We have resolved to reconstruct the shops ourselves because we can’t wait for anyone to do it for us. This is the only place where we earn our living; the market leaders have told us to do little lockup shops for now, pending when a new brick building would be built for us.

“Though we are not happy with the wood option because, this may be more dangerous for us. If the shops that got burnt were not in blocks, it would have been more dangerous. So, we appeal that they should help us make them in blocks soon,” she appealed.