Goods and property worth millions of naira were on Sunday destroyed by fire at the Nkwo Ogbe Market in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra state.
The fire which started around 1pm, was said to have lasted for some hours following late arrival of men of the Fire Service.
One of the victims, Edward Uzoma said the inferno had consumed more than half of the shops in the market, expressing anger at the absence of fire service or any kind of government help.
The Anambra Chief Fire Officer, Engr. Martin Agbili while explaining the reason for the delay, said they had to mobilize their men and truck all the way from Nnewi to battle the fire as soon as they received the call.
He however thanked God that no life was lost in the inferno.
In a statement late Sunday, the Anambra State Government had consoled Ihiala people over the fire, promising to lead the mobilization of the people in planning, designing and building a modern market in the town.
The state Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr C. Don Adinuba, who signed the statement revealed that the fire claimed not just buildings and market stalls but also vital goods and perhaps even raw cash.
He said the state government will set up a panel to determine the causes of the fire and also make suggestions on how to prevent possible reoccurrences, noting that this is the fourth time a fire has occurred in and around the major market in recent years.
“The state government would seek to complete the establishment of a fire service in the town, although it reckons that the facility would be of little value in the market if it is not provided amenities like access roads.
“A situation where the few available access roads in the market are converted to shops which makes it difficult for fire trucks to move into the market to extinguish fire is unacceptable”, he declared.
He announced that the state government would work with the Ihiala Progress Union, the Igwe in Council, the Ihiala Local Government, prominent people from the town and other stakeholders like the traders union and the Anambra State Ministry of Trade and Commerce to provide a befitting market.
Meanwhile, candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the November 6 election in the State, Valentine Ozigbo, has commiserated with victims of the fire .
Ozigbo, in statement issued on Sunday, noted the lack of emergency services at the scene of the tragedy, describing the incident as one of a string of unfortunate events.
“I have just received the heartbreaking news of the fire outbreak at Nkwo Ogbe Market in Ihiala Sunday afternoon,” Ozigbo wrote.
“This is one more tragedy in a string of market fires in which our people have lost millions of naira and there is no emergency service in sight whether it be the Anambra State Fire Service, medical, or other emergency services,” he said.
Ozigbo expressed disappointment with the poor quality of governance in the state, saying “the suffering of the people will soon be over”.
He said, “I condole with Ndi Ihiala who have suffered untold and needless hardships. I feel your pain and I will soon visit the scene for a spot assessment.
“The suffering of our people due to an ineffectual, dysfunctional, and insensitive government, by the grace of God, will soon be over.”