Harvest of fires in Kano…
3,800 shops destroyed at Sabon Gari, says NEMA
• Police arrest 100 for looting
• Kaduna Electricity Company denies responsibility
It was a gloomy Easter at the weekend for thousands of shop owners in the famous Sabon Gari market that was razed by fire on Saturday. The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said yesterday that at least 3,800 shops were destroyed by the incident.
Few hours after fire razed both Sabon Gari and Birnin Kebbi Central markets, the Abubakar Rimi Market was also razed, leaving shop owners to groan over losses running into billions of naira. The inferno was the second in three months; the first one last December affected mainly the furniture section.
It was further reported that no fewer than 6,000 shops, including make shift stalls, were wiped out by the fire, which raged for about 12 hours. A nearby branch of First Bank was also affected with several documents burnt.
NEMA Director-General, Alhaji Muhammad Sani Sidi Sidi, told newsmen at the scene in Kano, that the interim assessment of the situation indicated that the fire had destroyed more than 90 per cent of the market.
“It is unfortunate that from the record, more than 90 per cent of the market has been burnt. Based on the report, more than 3,800 shops and quite a number of buildings were razed by the inferno,” he said.
The director-general explained that no fewer than 15 persons sustained various degrees of injury during the incident. He, however, said that the injured were already receiving treatment at the hospital.
A grocery dealer, Sulieman Zakariah, said he lost goods worth N60m to the fire disaster, adding: “I lost everything to the fire, I have accepted the incident in good faith. God gives and takes from whomever He wishes so as a true Muslim I have accepted it as destiny and God knows the best on how to compensate me.”
Also, Alhaji Adamu Yakubu, who sells polythene bags and slippers, said he lost goods worth N40 million to the fire. He said he was planning to close down some of the shops to enable him transfer some of the goods located outside the market before the fire incident.
“I was just lucky that I have other shops outside the market. Now that my shops inside the market have been destroyed by the fire, I will now transfer the other goods to the market to start my business again,” he said.
However, security agents have arrested over 100 suspected looters during the fire outbreak. The state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Muhammad Katsina, disclosed this when Governor Abdullahi Ganduje visited the market yesterday.
Katsina said the suspects were apprehended by security personnel in different locations of the market while trying to escape with their loots. He said the suspects would be charged to court as soon as investigation was completed.
“The suspects are presently in our custody and as soon as investigation is concluded, they will be charged to court, “Katsina said.
In his remarks, the governor said the state government had taken measures aimed at preventing future occurrence.
Ganduje, who commiserated with the victims of the disaster and commended security personnel for ensuring adequate security during the incident, also thanked various private companies who supported the state Fire Service in putting out the inferno.
In a related development, the Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO) has denied responsibility for the inferno. A statement signed by its Chief Customer Relations Officer, Abubakar Yusuf, claimed that the feeder line supplying electricity to the market was not on as at the time of the incident.
It explained that the feeder, which received supply from Club Road was off since Friday by 5p.m. due to load shedding.
“We wish to put the records straight that the fire incidence at Sabon-Gari market never emanated from power spark. The two dedicated transformers supplying the market are still intact and had no sign of any power surge after the incidence.”
It condemned a statement by an official of the state fire service, linking the Sabon Gari market fire incident to electrical fault.
“The fire service never called us to alert us of the incident as they normally do when there is a fire outbreak, but unfortunately, for us they just went ahead to blame us”, the statement said.
The inferno affected a large section of the market in the early hours of Saturday and it took fire servicemen more than 24 hours to contain it.
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