Leaders of Ochanja Central Market, Onitsha in Anambra on Friday, said they needed N20 million to procure a standard fire fighting equipment to prevent recurring outbreak of fire in the market.
Mr Nelson Ojukwu, President of the Market Leaders Forum, made this known while responding to questions from the committee set up by the State House of Assembly on the Onitsha fire incident.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that on Oct. 16, a fuel tanker exploded and spilt its flaming content into the drains that run through the Upper Iweka axis to Ochanja Market, a distant of more than 500 metres.
The fire burnt some areas of the Onitsha market and killed eight people including a woman and her baby.
Ojukwu said that they had written several letters to the state government for the procurement of the equipment ever before the recent fire incident.
“There was a fire outbreak sometimes in 2015 at Ochanja Central Market which made us carry out a feasibility study on how to avert fire incident in the market.
“After that study, we discovered that it will cost the sum of N20 million to procure a standard and stand-by fire fighting equipment for the market.
“We realised it will not be easy tasking traders in the market due to the economic hardship in our country and so, we decided to write the state government and nothing was done.
“Just last week, we witnessed another fire incident which affected the market. Many lives and property were lost.
Ojukwu said that about six plazas with about 136 shops were badly affected by the fire explosion.
He appealed to governments at all levels and the state Assembly to support the affected people to ameliorate their plights.
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Reacting, a member of the Committee, Mr Lawrence Ezeudu (Dunukofia), said the market leaders should find a way to mobilise the traders and raise the N20 million, saying that government alone could not do it all.
“You have about 10,000 shops in that market and if you can fashion a way to levy the traders bit by bit, you can raise that money within two to three years.
“Government has other competing demands to cater for with limited resources,” Ezeudu said.
The House Committee Chairman on Public Utilities, Mr Chidi Udenmadu (Ihiala I), said the market leaders needed to be more proactive in their activities.
“We are talking about your livelihood. You need to be proactive in protecting and guarding it jealously against any form of destruction.
“We have listened to you and we promise to carry out this investigation to a logical conclusion, so we can recommend remedial measures to prevent future occurrences,” Udenmadu said.