No fewer than 557 shops filled with goods have been razed by fire in Singer, Kurmi, and Rimi Markets in Kano State in the first half of March.
The fires are all linked to electrical faults – a surge, faulty electrical connection, and improper solar connection.
Alhaji Habibu Hassan, who offloaded three trucks of seasoning cubes into his warehouse, is one of the local businessmen affected by the inferno at the popular Singer market, leaving him with less than half a truck.
“A day before the incident I offloaded three trucks of Maggi, but as we are talking right now almost everything is gone. I lost over N100 million. This is painful,” he says.
It was also a devastating experience for Abdulkadir Bashir Adakawa, whose warehouses were burnt to ashes.
“Two of my warehouses burnt completely, I don’t know how much as a result of the fire but this is sad.”
As they count their losses, another victim, Ikechukwu, is urging the State Fire Service to open a branch inside the markets to halt a reoccurrence.
“My boy called me about 1 am saying our warehouse was on fire, but before we reached the market everything was gone,” he laments.
“We are pleading with the government to provide fire service in the market, this will help to address the fire outbreaks in the future.”
The treasurer of the Traders Association in Kurmi Market, Abubakar Sa’id Mai-Leda, has disclosed that 72 low-income traders were affected in the market.
“The 72 persons affected in our market are low-income earners, so it will be very difficult for them to stand on their fit again. But we are calling on the government, and wealthy individuals in the State to assist us.”
The fires destroyed 458 shops and warehouses in Singer Market, 80 in Kurmi Market, and 19 shops and a mosque in Rimi Market, according to combined data released by the Kano State Fire Service and the Kano State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA).
On Thursday, three Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) at Zenith Bank on Tafawa Balewa Road were also razed by fire as a result of an electric spark.
The spokesman of the State Fire Service, Saminu Yusuf Abdullahi, agrees that local government authorities need to provide offices for the service in the markets.
“Before we open our branch in any of the markets the Local Government Council or the leadership of the market must provide an office where we will keep our personnel and equipment. Once this is done we will deploy our men to the office.”
On his part, the Executive Secretary of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Dr. Saleh Jili sympathizes with the victims of the affected markets, just as he assured that the State Government would assist the victims.
“It is really sad seeing what is happening in the markets. After the last fire outbreak at Singer Market, we access the level of damage and it is huge. I want to assure the victims that the state Government will assist them to put them back on their feet again,” he says.
Dr. Jili, however, urges shop owners to turn off all electrical appliances before leaving the markets to avert future occurrences.