By Alemma Aliu
BENIN CITY—TRADERS, yesterday, at Uwelu spare parts market in Egor Local Government Area near Benin City, the Edo State capital, continued to count their losses as a result of the fire incident that engulfed the market Monday night and destroyed over 90 stores with goods worth millions of naira.
Recounting their ordeal to Vanguard yesterday, several of the traders appealed to the state government to come to their aid, as they said they have been law abiding and contributing to the economy of the state.
This is just as the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, who visited the market yesterday, promised to assist the traders in finding out the cause of the fire and to rebuild it.
One of the affected traders, Lucky Uwabor from Igbanke, Orhionmwon Local Government Area, who deals on car shaft, said he had been operating there for over 22 years and that he lost goods worth N8 million.
He said: “It was while here I got married, had my first son, who is now 16 years old, and I have been taking care of my family from this market. But all I have now are iron and pieces of shaft.”
Another victim, Innocent Ikuemeze, said: “I lost everyting. I appeal to the state government to assist us get back on our feet. I am married with four children and 38 years old.”
Another victim, 40 years old Charles Omonkhozeva, said: ”I heard my store was burning at 1a.m., and thought it was a joke. Another person called me again, then I decided to call my friend, who confirmed it.
“I could not leave home that night because I live very far. When I came in at dawn, everything in my store was burnt to ashes.”
According to Chairman of Spare Sparts Delears Association, Mr. Ibie Augustine, the fire incident had compounded the low patronage they were witnessing due to bad roads.
He said: “Because of the devastation that the fire caused, some of our members intended to commit suicide, but we appealed to them to have faith in God, that things will be alright.”
When Governor Obaseki visited the market yesterday, he assured the traders of government’s support.
He said a committee would be set up to unravel the cause of the inferno.
Obaseki said: “I will hold a meeting with the Head, Edo Fire Service, sister agencies which helped in putting out the fire, members of the state executive council and officials of Egor Local Government.”
He said the committee would be given a week to carry out the investigation, ascertain the number of traders whose goods were damaged and the monetary value of goods lost.
“The team will also advise the state government on measures to put in place to ensure that fire outbreak in markets are minimised and prevented, where possible,” the governor promised.