Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola, yesterday, visited the Balogun Market, which was hit by an inferno on Monday, saying the state government will assist traders who lost their shops and wares to get back to business.
Fashola, who was at the market to sympathise with the traders and ascertain the extent of the damage, said the government would work with officials of the market to verify losses. He added that relief would be provided to victims as soon as enumeration of traders was completed.
An inferno at three multi-storey plazas at the market located at Lagos Island, razed about 150 shops on Monday, destroying goods worth billions of naira.
“I sympathise with you on this incident, especially you women trying to earn a living and keep body and soul together. This is indeed a very pathetic incident,” said Fashola.
“Be assured that our government will stand with you at this difficult period and we will help you get back on your business. That is the reason I have come with the Commissioner for Special Duties.
“I am working with the Iya Oloja and other market women to authenticate and verify all legitimate losses to the incident and this will apply to all affected in all the plazas.
“Once everyone has been identified, we will do our best to put you back to business and that will include replacing as many destroyed properties and buildings as possible.”
The governor, however, said the incident reminds of how important it was for the traders to insure their businesses against losses. The insured businesses would get compensation for losses from their insurers. He also urged traders and all residents of the area to always take precautions against fire outbreaks.
“I want to use this opportunity to appeal to all Lagosians that this is the dry season. We have two seasons in our state, the rainy season and the dry season.
“The rainy season, where we have the risk of flooding, we have successfully contained that. We are now in the dry season, where we have the risk of fire.
“We must be interested in our own safety and security. I appeal to you to stop storing inflammable materials in your homes and business places.
“Residents should cultivate the habit of turning off their electrical appliances not in use. It is the harmattan period and the harmattan wind makes fires easy to start and difficult to contain.
“As at yesterday, we were dealing with 18 fire incidents. That should tell anyone that a lot more precautions are needed during this season,” he said.
The governor, however, commended the state fire service for their prompt and adequate response to the incident.
Director of the state’s Fire Service, Rasaq Fadipe, while briefing Fashola on the incident, said the cause of the fire was yet to be ascertained, but an electrical fault around the market was suspected.
Fadipe said it was a great challenge putting the fire under control as there were too many illegal structures around the market which limited access of equipment and men to the scene.
“We are happy that at last the fire was brought under control. What we have now is smoke billowing from the destroyed market and that poses little threat.
“We are still here, we will ensure that the smoke is gone before we vacate here,” he said.