By Omeiza Ajayi

In the wake of Friday night fire which claimed at least six lives at the Kubwa Ultra Modern Market, Minister of State in the Federal Capital Territory FCT, Dr Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu has banned the sale of flammable products in undesignated areas of the territory.

The Minister announced the ban on Saturday when she visited the market.

Special Assistant on Media to the minister, Mr Austin Elemue in a statement said about 10 people who sustained various degrees of injuries are receiving treatment at the Kubwa General Hospital and National Hospital, both in Abuja.  

“The minister who visited the scene alongside the FCT Director of Fire Service, Malam Sani Sa’idu, among other top management staff of FCT Emergency Management Agency, also warned traders not to sell highly inflammable materials in an undesignated areas in line with global best practices”, Mr Elemue stated.  

While commending the FCT Fire Service and other critical stakeholders for their proactive steps in containing the inferno, the minister however lamented the high rate of casualties recorded, even as she expressed concern at the frequent fire outbreaks in major markets across the territory.  

Aliyu pledged that the FCT Administration would see how best to assist the victims, adding that the FCT Development Control Department would be directed to remove all shanties along the road corridors to pave way for emergency operations.  

“First, I want to on behalf of the FCT Administration and Mr. President sympathize with the families of those who lost their beloved ones in this unfortunate fire outbreak. However, it is regrettable that six persons have been confirmed dead despite the proactive steps taken by FCT Fire Service.  

“But I want to appeal to our residents to be law abiding when government makes policy statements on certain issues. Before now, government had warned residents not to sell kerosene, diesel or any inflammable chemicals in unauthorized areas. Abuja is a planned city and there are designated areas marked out for such trade.  

“I will direct the Development Control to come here and remove all the shanties that block the access road leading to the market. I was told that fire fighters found it difficult to even access this place due to preponderance of illegal structures and shanties. All these will be removed by next week and I want you to show understanding in carrying out this exercise,” Aliyu stated.  

Conducting the minister round the scene, the Director FCT Fire Service, Malam Sani Sa’idu, said the cause of the fire outbreak could not be established, but stressed that the fire outbreak was said to have started from a shop where kerosene was being sold.  

Sa’idu also informed the minister that as soon as the Service received the distress call from residents of the area, personnel were deployed from the nearby Maitama market Fire Outpost in Kubwa for rescue operation, stressing that if not for the quick intervention of the Service, the number of casualties could have been more than the number recorded.  

A trader, Mrs. Obilor Chidinma, who lost her 16 year old son, and a daughter who is still in critical condition was taken to Kubwa General Hospital on the orders of the FCT Minister of State.  

Meanwhile, the Chairman of Bwari Area Council, Hon. John Gabaya has given a 24-hour ultimatum to road side traders along Kubwa market road to vacate the area.

Gabaya gave the ultimatum when he visited the scene of the Kerosene tank explosion near the Kubwa main market to condole with the victims.

He said petty traders who cannot afford to pay for shops should make use of the free open spaces inside the Kubwa modern market.

According to him, the free open market space is a policy intervention to support petty traders who cannot afford the exorbitant rent being charged by commercial property owners and threatened to sanction any market official demanding payment for the open spaces.

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