By Onome Oghenetega
An early morning inferno on Tuesday wreaked havoc at the popular Ogbeogonogo Modern Market along the busy Nnebisi Road, Asaba, Delta State capital, as multimillion naira goods belonging to traders were destroyed by the raging fire.
The fire, according to sources, started at about 7pm with what many sources claimed to have been caused by power surge, causing the inferno to raze the livestock and tailoring sections of the market.
Ogbeogonogo Modern Market is the biggest and a major foodstuff market in the state capital.
However, no human casualty was recorded during the incident as the market was not due to open for business activities on Tuesday in line with the state government directive to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
It was learnt that chickens, goats and other livestock were roasted while sewing machines, tailoring items and other goods worth millions of naira, were lost to the raging fire.
Some of the traders who rushed to the scene of the incident lamented that the fire outbreak was caused by electricity surge, possibly when power was restored to the market in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
They claimed that the inferno started from the section of the market where mobile phones and accessories are being sold.
One of the affected traders said “I am finished! All my sewing machines are gone. Even materials that I collected from customers all got burnt in the shop.”
“An eyewitness sympathised with the affected traders saying that most of them were now “using their tooth to count their losses as the fire razed shops and goods along the Nnebisi road.
“The first state fire service truck that came to rescue the situation ran out of water while the fire was still on.
“As at 9:26am, the fourth fire service truck arrived while Good Samaritans were serving water from the gutter to quench the fire but to no avail.”
The eyewitness said that angry traders almost lynched a police officer at the scene as people were scampering for life and trying to salvage their goods but were prevented from having a free-for-all.
The source disclosed that the fire spread ostensibly because of the closeness of shops to one another, a development which the source said made it difficult for the fire fighters to gain access into the market to battle it.
Incidentally, our correspondent gathered that the state government had through the Delta State Capital Territory Development Agency, issued a three-month ultimatum to the traders to vacate the area and secure spaces inside the main market.
Director General of the agency, Mrs. Amaechi Mrakpor was said to be one of the early callers while the fire was still raging to sympathise with affected traders. She however kept mute during the visit.
Chairman of Oshimili South Local Government Area, Comrade Uche Osadebe who later came to the scene, had demanded for the services of an excavator to clear the burnt shops to enable the fire service truck gain access into the market in order to put off the fire completely.
However, the state governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa had just visited the market at the time of filing this report.