Traders weep, as fire guts Wadata Market Benue


Traders at the Wadata Market in Makurdi, Benue which was gutted by early morning fire outbreak are counting their losses.

Sources said that the fire started at about 1am on Tuesday.

A cross section of the traders, who spoke with NAN, lamented their huge losses. They said they did not know what was responsible for the outbreak. Mrs Philomena Samaka, a pepper seller at the market told NAN that her entire shop and goods were razed by the inferno.

Samaka said she was called to rush to the market at about 2 am when the fire started. But she regretted that even though she arrived the scene, there was nothing she could do to salvage the situation. Another trader, Yakubu Mohammed, who deals in kitchen utensils, said his shop worth 6 million naira was razed by the fire.

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Yakubu said that though they rushed to the market on time, yet there was little they could do as the fire was too much for them to confront. He decried the delay from the State Fire Service to respond to emergency call. He said a prompt response from personnel of the service would have reduced extent of destruction. Mr Chinidu Eze, a dealer in clothes, grains and kitchen utensils, said his three shops were all lost to the inferno. Eze said “This is the second time, this market is going up in flames”.

He appealed to government to ensure the market was protected against future occurrence of fire incident. A tailor, whose shop was not affected, decried the massive losses incurred by traders and called for government intervention to cushion effects of the fire on them.

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NAN reports that the market was still burning as at 7:12 am and military fire officers from 72 Battalion, were on hand to quench the raging flames. Reacting to the fire outbreak, the Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Benue Fire Service, Mr Shave Doo, said he received a distress call in the early hours of Tuesday.

He said he immediately dispatched a fire team to the scene. Mr Doo, who said the team succeeded in putting off the fire, and admitted that a large part of the market had already been burnt before their arrival.

 He said his team was still assessing the extent of damage caused by the fire but said it was not connected with electrical fittings. He said “Our men are still doing a secondary assessment of the effect of the fire and will soon determine the actual damages after discussing with traders and market union leaders. “As for now it very difficult to give out monetary figures in terms of damage, we will do that after thus secondary assessment”.

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The Benue Police Command was yet to comment on the outbreak as its spokesman, ASP Moses Yamu, requested for more time to get the situation report before making official comments.

NAN however, reports that police personnel were sighted at the scene trying to prevent miscreants from looting.

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