Shops in the popular Bola Ige International Market, New Gbagi in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, were razed by a fire on Thursday with goods worth millions of naira destroyed.The incident affected mainly textile materials traders.
The blaze left nothing untouched in the affected shops as assorted ankara, lace and curtain materials were burnt to ashes, although no human injuries were recorded and no life was lost. According to Eyewitnesses, no one knew for certain the cause of the fire, but they expressed unhappiness with the slow response from the men of the Oyo State Fire Service, whom they claimed were promptly called when the fire broke out. The traders said they could only watch helplessly as the fire spread to shops, because there were no qualified personnel to put out the inferno.
One of the eyewitnesses, Rashidat Alagbe, said a quicker response from the Oyo State Fire Services would have curtailed the fire.
In her words:“The fire started without warning and calls were made to the state fire service department but there was no response from the officers. The result was losses worth Millions of naira for the Igbo traders.”
One of those affected, who simply identified himself as Michael, said he lost everything he recently stocked. He called on the state government to station a permanent fire service department in the market.
“I do not know where to start from because I lost everything. I just returned from a trip and everything I brought from that trip to sell is lost. I am now indebted to my bank. If we had a fire service station permanently at the market, this would not have happened,” he said.
However, the Director of the state fire service, Kareem Oyekunle, told our correspondent that there is no truth in the allegation that his men’s late response was responsible for the extensive damage caused by the inferno.
“We were there immediately and our efforts stopped the fire. The traders association of the market came to our office to thank us. We responded promptly and acted professionally,” he said.
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