No fewer than 100 shops, equipment and goods worth millions of naira were on Friday razed by an inferno at a section of Sango Plank Market in Ibadan.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the market had witnessed many such disasters in the past, with the last razing over 300 shops.
Mr Abdul-Akeem Olanrewaju, the Chairman of Ibadan and Area Carpenters’ Association, Ibadan North Local Government Area, said that the inferno was reported to have started at about 2 am.
He said that the inferno would have burnt the entire market and some surrounding houses but for the swift intervention of the Oyo State Fire Service.
The chairman, who alleged that the inferno must have been caused by arsonists, said there was a law that every shop must close by 7 p.m.
“We have a task force that usually goes out on patrol at the close of the market to ensure that no electrical appliance or machine is left connected to power supply.
“We also have night guards. I don’t think this fire disaster was from power supply and our machines,’’ he said.
A victim, Mr Abdul-Azeez Dauda, said that he had lost everything in the market to the inferno, adding that it would affect his livelihood and that of his family.
“How do I survive? How do I pay the school fees of my children? How do we eat at home now? Honestly, I don’t know what to do. I need assistance,’’ he said.
Another victim, who craved anonymity, said he had been in the market for over 25 years, adding that there had never been a record of fire disaster at that section of the plank market.
“This is strange. At about 2 a.m., someone called me that the market was on fire and by the time I got here, the entire place had been razed. I am confused,’’ he said.
Mr Moshood Adewuyi, the Director of Oyo State Fire Service, told newsmen at the scene of the fire incident that the fire brigade was swiftly mobilised to the scene immediately a distress call was made to his office.
Adewuyi, who lamented the extent of damage, urged the traders to be careful with their working tools and abide by all safety procedures, saying fire almost gutted the surrounding houses.
“When I got there, I learnt the fire started from a shop. They said the electricity supply was fully on when the fire started.
“So, one of the machines might have overrun leading to the fire outbreak. The traders deal with free burning materials that quickly ignite and spread,” he said.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, SP Adekunle Ajisebutu, told newsmen that Mr Abiodun Odude, the State Commissioner of Police, had visited the scene to assess the level of damage.
He said the police boss assured traders of security and adequate investigation to ascertain the cause of the inferno.
Among the early callers at the market were Mr Bolaji Abayomi, the Caretaker Chairman of Irepo Local Council Development Area.