Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Recently, the spare parts section of the mechanic village, Imiringi Road, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, was thrown into deep sorrow. This was as a result of a mysterious fire that swept through the expanse market destroying goods and properties.
It was a sorry sight after the fire was put under control. Traders whose shops were affected were in anguish, lost in thought on how and where would help come for them to start afresh as they have lost everything to the fire.
The Deputy Governor, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, who visited the scene disclosed that government constituted a committee to investigate the cause of the fire outbreak. The committee headed by Commissioner for Trade, Industry and Investment, Mr Stanley Braboke, would ascertain the level of damage and suggest measures to forestall future occurrences.
His words: “On behalf of the Governor of Bayelsa State, we want to empathize with those who have lost properties in this unfortunate incident. We thank God that the fire service responded immediately. That is the essence of having the fire service. We are going to look at the possibility of having other stations in close proximity. If the distance was shorter, I am sure more properties would have been retrieved.
“We are going to look at the possibility of decentralising the fire station, to have more stations across the state capital. This government will try and position fire trucks in strategic locations like Tombia Junction, Igbogene and Swali areas.”
Chairman of Spare Parts Dealers Association at the Mechanic Village, Mr Sunday Okoli, commended the governor for the swift visit and show of sympathy, noting that the gesture would go a long way to encourage those affected. He appreciated the security operatives for promptly alerting the fire service as well as helping to secure the scene and its vicinity to avoid theft during the incident.
Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr Konbowei Benson, who also visited the market assured affected traders that government would look into their plight: “You are the government. Each time we are campaigning we always come here to campaign. Whatever happens to you, affects us.
“That is why we are here to take inventory and to ascertain what really happened. More than that, we shall invite the leadership of this place for us to put paper together so that we can present it to the Governor. We say sorry for that happened. Please be calm.”
Some of the victims expressed sadness over their losses and pleaded with government to come to their aid. One of them, Michael Chukwudi, lamented that since the fire incident, he has been finding it difficult to survive:
“I cannot really tell you what happened. We finished market on the previous day and went home. Coming back I just saw that my shop was completely razed down. All the cash and goods delivered the previous night were destroyed. The security man was alleged to be sleeping.
“This fire has affected me so badly. If I had not offloaded the waybill that was brought the previous night, I would have started from there but now I don’t even know where to start. I am praying for God to intervene. Government should assist us to survive, if not we are going back to the village.”
Another spare parts seller, Chinedu Franklin, said: “We don’t sleep here. Once it is closing time, we close and go home. On the fateful day, nobody was here. I got a call that the mechanic village was on fire. I rushed down and saw my shop on fire. We have asked questions and nobody can explain how the fire started.
“To survive has been very difficult. We are hoping that government would come to our aid. We hope the government can assist us, no matter how small.”
John Okeke said his hope is now what the government can do to make him stand on his feet again: “This is terrible. I got a call that my shop was on fire. Before I got here, everything has been destroyed. I don’t know where to start. I am now stranded; I don’t know where to start. I am begging government to help us.”