JOHN Nwanbeke, Chairman of Ofoke-Abba, Kpiri-kpiri Market Traders Association (OKMTA), says no fewer than 120 shops were affected by the fire disaster that engulfed the market on Sunday.
Nwanbeke, who disclosed this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abakaliki, said the fire destroyed shops and goods worth millions of Naira.
“All I know about the fire is that immediately I came back from church, I got a call from my colleagues that there was fire from a bush in St. Patrick’s Primary School land that had spread into the market.
“I thought it was a small fire until I got to the market to discover that it was a huge inferno and that it had destroyed so many shops and goods.
“I immediately called the Fire Service who responded immediately to battle the fire until it was put off.
“Let me add that the timely arrival of men of the fire service and their spirited efforts saved the entire market from being razed down.
“The fire incident affected parts of the timber, foodstuffs, building materials, tailoring sections of the market.
“I cannot give the actual figure of the shops affected for now, but we have so far recorded over 120 shops and many are still clearing the debris from the burnt shops,” he said.
Nwanbeke also commended Mrs Chinwe Nwogbaga, the Chairman of Ebonyi Local Government Area, for her timely response to their distress call.
According to him, the council boss also assisted in ensuring that the firemen lived up to their responsibility.
He then appealed to the state government to come to the aid of the affected traders by providing compensations to cushion the effect of the losses.
He said: “The government should, as a matter of urgency, fence the market; had it been the market was fenced there was no way the fire would have scaled the wall to enter into the market.”
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that former Gov. Sam Egwu relocated the market from old Kpiri-kpiri, along old Enugu road, to its permanent site at Ophoke-Abba, when it was gutted by fire in March 2005.
NAN further reports that only makeshift shops were affected in the fire disaster as the majority of permanent structures in the market are still under construction.