From Uche Nnorom, Makurdi
An early morning inferno yesterday gutted the Wadata Market located in Makurdi, the Benue state capital razing down shops and destroying goods worth over 800 million naira.
According to eye witness account, the inferno started at about 2:30 am from the poultry section and quickly spread through the fish to the palm oil and grains sections of the market.
A trader, Abdul Yusuf who spoke to our reporter, said men of the state fire service and individuals battled hard for more than four hours to put off the fire and eventually brought it under control at about 5am.
When our reporter visited the market in the morning, traders whose shops were affected were seen weeping uncontrollably as they managed to salvage what was left of their wares.
The traders including Hassana Garba, Rabiu Jubrin, Gambo Abdullahi said they have lost more than 600 bags of grains ranging from beans, maize, millet, guinea corn, wheat etc as a result of the inferno.
Vice President, Makurdi Traders Union Yusuf Abdullahi Gambo, said most of the traders had to take loans to stock their shops ahead of the New Year and called on government to come to their aid.
“We have a scheme in the market and most of the traders get loans from it to acquire the goods that has been destroyed.
“Most people affected cannot survive without their trade and need an intervention from government to sustain their families.
“Though we are still collecting information about burnt goods and will make public soon, we are appealing to spirited individuals, organisations and government to come to the aid of victims affected by the fire incident,” he said.
Governor Samuel Ortom who visited the market to assess the level damage caused by the fire, announced the donation of thirty million naira, (N30 million) to the traders to cushion the effect of their losses.
The Governor also, directed the deployment of more security agencies in the market to prevent looting by hoodlums who might take advantage of the incident to cause more havoc.
He also, announced a setting up of committee headed by the secretary to the Benue State Government Tony Ijohor SAN to investigate the incident and seek ways of forestalling future occurrence.
Earlier, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Doo Shave said the Fire Service received a running call from one of the affected traders around 2 am and quickly mobilised the fire trucks to the scene and eventually put the fire under control around 5am.
According to him, the State Fire Service is well equipped to fight fire specially within the state capital, but only need smoke detector to swiftly respond to incidence of fire in the state.
“We have five functional trucks in the state now. We did not arrive late but we got there as soon as we got report of the inferno. We do not have smoke detectors. Fire was reported to us at about 2am and within ten minutes we mobilized to the scene,” he said.