By Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
About 100 shops were on Wednesday morning razed by fire at the Otukpo Main Market in Otukpo, Benue State.
The early morning inferno which also destroyed property worth millions of naira left many traders wailing after they lost all their wares in the fire.
This is the second time this year that the market has been engulfed by fire after it was gutted sometimes in March this year.
During the first fire incident, property worth millions of naira were destroyed after about 200 shops were burnt at the Lagos line section of the market precisely on March 16.
Eyewitnesses disclosed that the Wednesday morning inferno started and quickly spread due to the dry weather while traders battled to quench the fire before the arrival of men of the Otukpo Fire Service who put it off.
Confirming the incident to newsmen by telephone, Council Chairman of Otukpo, George Alli disclosed that the timely intervention of the Fire Service prevented the fire from spreading to other sections of the market.
He listed areas affected to include the building materials section as well as electronics and plastic materials sections of the market.
Alli who noted that it was still too early to ascertain the worth of property destroyed by the inferno, expressed shock and sadness over the incident even as he sympathised with the traders for their loses.
‘Early hours of this morning, I got a call that there was a fire incident at the Otukpo Main Market and I quickly put a call through to the Fire Service and they promptly responded and put out the fire.
‘We lost about 64 shops. The market is actually chocked and we are trying to see how we can put access roads in the market. We are urging the traders association to cooperate with the local government on this.
‘At a point, they took us to court but eventually withdrew. We need their cooperation on this because the traders are always at the receiving end whenever this kind of incidence happen.
‘This development is sad. I sympathise with the traders of the affected shops and feel their losses in these trying times. I thank God that no life was lost. I want to also commend men of the Otukpo Fire Service for quickly responding to the calls to contain the fire.
‘Going forward we will have to stamp our feet and restructure the market to allow fire service truck and other equipment free movement within the market like we are currently doing with the burnt shops we are rebuilding. This will safeguard the lives and properties of traders and customers in the market in the event of an emergency,’ Alli stated.
At the time of filing this report, many affected traders were still counting their loses.