Traders Count Losses As Fire Guts Onitsha Market
By Nedum Noble
Tragedy struck Thursday in the industrial area of Onitsha, Anambra State when the polythene section of the area, popularly called Polythene Producers Industrial Cluster was gutted by fire, destroying property estimated at millions of naira.
The fire, said to have occurred at about 12.55am, consuming machines, materials and other valuables.
Some of the victims of the fire who were seen in clusters bemoaning their fates, attributed the fire to power surge.
Speaking to newsmen, the Chairman of the industrial area, Mr. Anthony Ubakasi, said efforts of the Ogidi Fire Service prevented the fire from consuming the entire market.
He attributed the fire to epileptic power supply by Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) and lack of space for them to operate in separate warehouses/factories.
“The fire started at about 12.55 am on Thursday morning, following an electric spark when power supply was restored in the area but the fear of electrocution from a live cable at the frontage of the market made it impossible for us to enter the site to see if we could salvage any goods or machinery,” he said.
He however alleged that the fire fighters came with an empty water tank, adding that they later called the Ogidi section, which responded and succeeded in putting off the fire, “but that was after a large chunk of the market had been burnt.”
A victim, Chuks Eze, put the total cost of his loss to the fire at about N40m, while Mr. Ikechukwu Emehige, said he lost about N15m.
Paul Agadinulo, another victim, said he lost a printing machine he bought for N8m and installed in September 2017, to the fire.
“I lost my IPA, Butternol, rolls of BOPP, more that 50 rubber stereos and gallons of ink worth over N13m, making an approximate of N15m loss,” he added.
Chika Eze, a soap producer, who broke down in tears while speaking to journalists, said he lost a crushing machine valued at N3m, adding that his total loss was about N9m.
“I lost about N17m worth of goods to the inferno, including two bottom sealing machines worth N10m, three side sealing machines worth N1.9m, a cutting machine worth N1.7m, two tonnes of raw materials worth N2m, and rolls of raw materials and finished goods worth N1.5m,” decried Eunice Onuora.
The traders appealed to the state Governor, Willie Obiano, to compensate them for the losses which they described as alarming.