Goods worth several millions of naira have been destroyed in a midnight fire that razed the biggest motor spare parts market in Edo State located at Uwelu, in Egor Local Government Area of the state.
The fire was said to have started at about 11:45pm Monday night, August 12th and lasted till about 4am after efforts from fire service men from the University of Benin and the Nigerian Army.
Sections of the market affected by the fire were the lines were Mercedes Benz, Mazda, Ford and Toyota parts are sold. It was gathered that some of the affected traders just bought goods to fill their stores. Some of the traders were said to have collapsed when they visited the scene and saw the magnitude of their losses.
One of them was said to have attempted running into the raging fire, but was stopped. One of the victims, Daniel Okungbowa, who deals in all types fuel and oil pumps, said he lost goods worth about N4 million to the fire. Another victim, Osaeruoname Festus, said they we’re yet to ascertain the cause of the fire and 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 led to the fire. We could not remove anything from our shops. Many boys who just got freedom from their masters and opened? their shops, are yet to repay the loans they took from various banks.”
Chairman of Spare Parts Dealers Association, Augustine Ibie Osaretin, said the fire incident had compounded the low patronage they were currently witnessing due to bad roads that led to the market. He added that the four security guard hired by the traders were being questioned by the police.
Osaretin said he received an anonymous call that the market was on fire and that when he called the security personnel on ground, he was told that it was somebody burning something in a nearby 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 State 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 a 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.