Traders in Nkwo Ngwa market in Aba South Local Government Area of Abia State have lost goods worth millions of naira in a midnight fire that engulfed the market.
While police and other agencies have launched investigation to unravel the cause of the fire incident, sources at the market told our reporter that they suspected that it was as a result of the carelessness of a food vendor who couldn’t properly put out fire in her shop before closing for the day.
Another source has it that the fire started in a wood processing factory in the market.
A reporter who visited the market on Sunday in the company of Abia State Commissioner of Police, Chris Ezike gathered that over 100 shops were engulfed in the inferno.
It was learnt that the fire incident which started at about 8pm lasted several hours before it could be put out by some of the callers to the scene and through the efforts of personnel of the State Fire Service who were on hand to stop the fire from spreading to other parts of the market.
Some of the affected traders who could not hold back their tears said that their loss run into millions and lamented the bad situation of the road leading to the market which prevented the Fire Servicemen from arriving the scene in record time, causing them to suffer more damage.
Prince Okechukwu Lawrence, chairman of the market confirmed that there was no loss of life, but regretted the level of damage suffered by the traders as a result of the inferno.
Lawrence while debunking that the traders attacked personnel of the fire service, disclosed that hoodlums capitalized on the incident to loot from other shop owners in the market.
He appealed to Abia State governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu to come to their aid as many of them have lost their means of livelihood through the inferno.
In his speech, the Commissioner of Police in the state who said that he was on a sympathy visit and to have firsthand information of the incident, called on the traders to be calm and peaceful as police had already launched investigation into the matter.
Ezike added that they have started compiling the names of the affected traders with the intention of forwarding same to the state government for necessary actions to be taken.
The Senior Special Adviser to Abia State Governor on Security, Captain Awa Udensi (rtd) who was also at the scene expressed the regret over the loss, adding that the state government would see ways of coming to the assistance of the affected victims.
Awa assured the traders that their plight would be tabled to the Governor of the state as soon as he (Ikpeazu) arrives the state from his trip.
Some residents who spoke to the reporter described the incident as unfortunate, stressing that they were all afraid that the damage could be much going by the rage of the inferno.
They thanked the commissioner of police for showing concern and prayed that efforts would be put in place to check a recurrence of such ugly incident.