Traders at the Balogun market in Lagos Island have been counting their losses following the early morning fire outbreak on Monday, claiming they lost goods worth N30 billion.
In separate interviews, the traders told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that about 11 containers containing bags, shoes and clothing materials had just been off loaded into some of the shops that were razed.
Mrs Kadiri Kareem, an attendant in one of the shops, said that her employer had goods worth N27 billion in his containers.
“The containers have just arrived and we have barely completed offloading the goods.
“Nothing has been sold out of them before this fire. This is not a good way to start the New Year,’’ she said.
Another trader, Mr Okechukwu Anyiam, said he lost goods in four shops and do not know how to start quantifying the losses.
`”My God, is this how I will start this New Year?
“When we left yesterday there was no sign that there will be fire. Where do I start from here,’’ he lamented.
“It is not good to rent many shops in one place,’’ Mrs Iyabo Adebola, another trader said.
According to her, many of the shops razed in the plaza are owned by wholesale traders in wears and accessories.
Mr Rasaq Ekunsumi, the Secretary of the Balogun Community in Central Lagos, said that the fire started around 4 a.m. from one of the containers attached to the five-storey building.
He said that the building first went up in flames and spread to other shops.
He added that the fire spread quickly because the items in the containers were inflammable.
“We started calling the fire service immediately the flame was noticed. But they did not arrive until fire had spread to two adjacent buildings.
“It is not what we could handle because the fire began where rubber products are being sold,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Rasaq Fadipe, the Director, Lagos State Fire Service, has called for assistance from other rescue agents as they moved equipment to fight the inferno.
He made the call while inspecting the fire fighting operation at the market.
According to him, the help was needed to remove obstructions around the area to enable fire trucks access the buildings and combat the fire.