As the world on Monday and Tuesday celebrated Sallah, an inferno swept tbrough the biggest motor spare parts market in Edo State and in the process destroyed goods worth several millions of naira.
The fire was said to have started about 11:45pm Monday night and lasted till about 4am after all efforts by fire service men from the University of Benin and the Nigerian Army failed to put it out.
The market is located at Uwelu, Benin in Egor Local Government Area of the state.
Sections of the market affected by the fire are the lines were Mercedes Benz, Mazda, Ford and Toyota parts are sold.
It was gathered that some of the affected traders just came Bank from the markets with goods.
Some of the traders were said to have collapsed when they visited the scene and saw the magnitude of their losses.
One of them was said to have attempted running into the raging fire, but was stopped.
One of the victims, Daniel Okungbowa, who deals in all types of fuel and oil pumps, said he lost goods worth about N4m to the fire.
Another victim, Osaeruoname Festus, said they were yet to ascertain the cause of the fire.
He wondered how the fire spread rapidly when there was no power supply to the market.
According to him, “We are yet to ascertain what actually happened that led to the fire. We could not remove anything from our shops.
“Many boys that just got freedom from their masters and opened their shops, are yet to repay the loans they took from various banks.”
Chairman of Spare Sparts Delears Association, Augustine Ibie Osaretin, said the fire incident has compounded the low patronage they are currently witnessing due to bad roads that lead to the market.
He added that the four security guard hired by the traders were being questioned by the police.
Osaretin said he received an anonymous call that the market was on fire and when he called the security personnel on ground, he was told that it was somebody burning something in a closeby street.
“When the security man told me somebody was burning something, I told him to check properly and he told me it was the line where my shop is located that was on fire.
“I called the Edo State Fire Service, but they did not come. The entire market would have been razed if fire men had not come from UNIBEN and the Nigerian Army.
“For now, we do not suspect any foul play, but we have held a meeting to appease those affected and stop any suicide attempt.
“We beg the state government to rebuild the market because we are using loan from micro-finance bank,” he said.