By Chioma Onuegbu, Uyo
At least about eight lock up shops have been burnt down, and goods worth millions of naira destroyed at the popular Itam market , Uyo Akwa Ibom State capital, following mysterious fire that entered a section of the market on Tuesday night
The cause of the inferno could not be ascertained at press time, even though newsmen who visited the scene on Wednesday gathered that there were no electrical connections in the affected area of the market.
Newsmen also gathered that the fire incident which occurred about 9pm on Tuesday could not spread to the entire market following the efforts of the youths of the area who mobilized to break some shops and evacuate some goods.
Owner of one of the affected shops, Mr John who deals on stationery narrated how he lost everything to the fire saying: “I left the market around 6pm and by some minutes past nine, one of the security men called me that my shop has burnt down. I rushed down to this place immediately.
” I was devastated when I saw everything in my shop was destroyed. Fire service people were here when I came but I couldn’t remove even a pin from the shop. Honestly I don’t know where to start from.”
Another victim, Aniekpeno Akra told journalists that he got a similar call from people but on arrival he discovered that the havoc has already been done.
The chairman, Board of Trustees, traders forum association, Elder Godwin Ebong in an interview expressed dismay over the incident, noting that preliminary investigations have not revealed the cause of the inferno even as no electrical wiring was connected in those shops.
Ebong however noted that the intervention of men of fire service who arrived the scene within 45 minutes helped to ensure the mysterious fire did not cause more damage.
“Till now, we cannot ascertain the cause of the fire outbreak. We are still hoping that few days from now, we will find out what happened.
As you can see about eight shops were torched, but two were critically affected.
“The occupants of some of the shops sell grains, like rice beans, the other one sells stationery. Personally and collectively we don’t know the cause of the fire outbreak and some so many goods have been destroyed.”
When contacted, the Special Assistant to the Governor on Trade and Investment, Mr Idorenyin Raphael, said when he got the news he immediately called the Commissioner for Works and fire service who in turn ordered his men to the scene.