…..as resident call for relocation of market
Grandball Choice /Omamuzo Efidhere
Chairman of Otovwodo-Ughelli market, Oharisi Ufuoma has stated that quick response from the fire department would have curtailed the market fire disaster that led to loss of properties worth millions of naira.
Fielding questions from newsmen at the scene of the incident, he said “immediately the fire started while trying to do the little we can to put it off, we placed a call to the fire service department to come and assist us but we expected them for more than one hour and thirty minutes and they did not show up.
“Government has provided all the necessary equipment for them to respond to fire incidents so that when we need them they are supposed to be available but I wonder what their excuse is. This is very poor and unacceptable because yearly they come to collect money from shop owners yet not proactive.
Continuing he assured that kerosene sellers will no longer be allowed to store or sell their produce around others. “If it was not for the kerosene deport this incident wouldn’t have been massive. We will put an end to it now so that such thing will not repeat itself.”
The fire, according to sources was said to have been ignited by a spark from a high tension cable belonging to BEDC and immediately after the transformer underneath it went up in flames spreading to drums and gallons of suspected adulterated kerosene. It was also gathered that that particular market section had been a spot for the storing and selling of adulterated kerosene by market women.
Meanwhile a resident of Ughelli kingdom, Chief Ighoavwota Goddy has said that the market be moved to a safer location. “The location of the Otovwodo market is wrong that place is a time bomb waiting to explode. People are blaming the fire service department for not responding whereas if they had responded with the cluster and the way the market is built couldn’t have allowed the fire service to render help.
“That market is danger inherent the way the market is mapped out is crazy; a vehicle cannot drive in and out without so much difficulties and technicalities, during their market days, they occupy the high way, East-West road. It is by God’s mercy that a trailer has not run into the traders. Because of political interest government has done nothing as most stalls in the market are owned by politicians.
“In a normal market setting, people selling kerosene or making use of fire are separated from those selling fruits, meat, foodstuff and provisions. The government knows these things but refusal to implement the laws that will safe guard the lives of the people they lead is what we are talking about.”
When contacted, the Business Manager of BEDC in Ughelli, Mr. Bethel Ebiuwhe said, “We have severally warned traders selling under the high tension cable to stop their trade under the wires because of the danger inherent but to no avail.
Ebiuwhe alleged that the company had written series of letters to relevant authorities to warn the traders and evacuate them from the spot but no action was taken. “The fire consumed all the containers of illegal petroleum products, spilling the fire around and into the adjoining drainage. The fire would have extended to a shopping Mall in the area if not for Otovwodo youths who were on ground to take preventive measures to stop it from escalating”
One of the market women who refuse to give her name said, “I just got back from market and I was discussing with my neighbor only to see fire approaching my shop I shouted for help and in the process of trying to transfer my goods to safety, 23 gallons of 25 litres of my product were stolen.”
The local government council chairman, Chief Godwin Adode was on ground to assess the level of damage caused by the fire. He was grateful to God that no life was lost but has ordered that the whole area be quarantined and placed a ban on trading in the area.
“The spark on the high tension wire fell on the place where some of our women sell kerosene, diesel and fuel and that caused an explosion leading to a huge ball of fire that consumed part of the market and BEDC wires.
“I have called a meeting in the palace of the Ovie of Ughelli on this matter and warned that nobody should sell under the high tension wire because of the danger involved since life has no duplicate. But some interest groups came to plead and mount pressure on me and I refused. So what I am saying now is that nobody should sell under the high tension wire again.” Adode said.
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