Fire guts Benin market, EPDA office complex
Written by darling on December 23, 2019
Properties worth millions of naira were on Sunday destroyed by fire at the popular Ekiosa Market in Benin, Edo State.
The fire also gutted a five-storey office complex of the Edo Property Development Agency, located on the Sakponba Road.
The market fire, which started around 11am, caught the residents, most of who were still in church, unawares and forced many of them to abandon church services to salvage the situation.
One of the shop owners, Mrs Grace Edomo, said she was there when the market went up in flames, but could not state what actually started the fire.
“I was in my shop when I saw flames of fire in the market. My husband and I were inside the shop when he said he wanted to go home; as he was about to go, I looked outside and saw fire in the centre of the market. Unfortunately, there was nobody to help extinguish the fire since when it started,” she stated.
An eyewitness, Friday John, said the fire was caused by a power surge when electricity was restored to the area.
Hundreds of sympathisers thronged the market to help salvage some of the goods and to console relatives, whose goods were consumed by the inferno.
Some of the affected victims were said to have stocked their shops last week ahead of the Christmas and New Year celebrations.
Meanwhile, a group of angry youths trouped to the street to protest the fire incident, which they said had destroyed the means of livelihood of many people.
Trouble started when firefighters from the state fire service arrived at the scene late and complained of lack of water and faulty engine to pump water from their tank.
The youth accused the firefighters of neglecting the burning market by diverting attention to the five-storey EPDA building.
It took the efforts of residents of the area to salvage some of the goods from the makeshift stalls and other shops in the market.
Soldiers and armed policemen were later drafted to the scene to prevent hoodlums from looting the market.
The state Commissioner for Special Duties, Mr Damian Lawal; the Peoples Democratic Party lawmaker representing the Oredo Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Mr Omoregie Ihama; and the state Commissioner of Police, Mr Lawal Jimeta, were among top government officials who visited the market.
Jimeta, who spoke to journalists, described the incident as unfortunate.
He said his men were drafted to the scene to protect the market from being attacked by hoodlums.