The Controller-General, Federal Fire Service (FFS), Mr Ibrahim Liman, on Monday, visited the Shehu Shagari Modern Market in Sokoto State to commiserate with traders over the recent fire incident in the market.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that part of the market, popularly called New Market, was gutted by fire on Jan. 19, with traders losing goods worth millions of naira.
Liman said that the visit was to assess the extent of damage and offer advice to the state government on how to prevent future fire outbreaks.
While describing the incident as unfortunate, he noted that it had led to the loss of the livelihood of many traders.
“When the incident occurred, I was monitoring it from Abuja, and from the reports I got, it was difficult for our men and fire trucks to access the market.
“If there was early access to the market, I am sure the destruction would not be of this magnitude.
`Unfortunately, some natural factors, such as the wind, aided the spread of the fire because this is harmattan season.
“Our men did their best and I was also informed that the Minister of Environment deployed a bulldozer to the scene to break down shops for our men to gain access,’’ he said.
Liman advised the state government to construct the roads leading to the market for easy access, in case of fire incident.
He also called for the provision of sources of water, such as fire hydrants and borehole, in the market.
The controller-general disclosed that in 2019 and 2020, statistics indicated that Sokoto, Zamfara and Kebbi states recorded the highest number of fire outbreaks during harmattan.
“In 2019, we had over 1,000 fire outbreaks in Sokoto, Zamfara and Kebbi states while in 2020, we had over 1, 356 in the three states.
“That shows that we need to pay more attention to this part of the country, especially with deployment of more fire fighting trucks and personnel,’’ he said.
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, thanked the controller-general for visit, adding that the state government had set up a committee to probe the incident.
“With the involvement of the federal fire service and other stakeholders, when investigative report is put together, we will advise the government to ensure that the road leading to the market is not obstructed.
“Building plans must be respected. Unfortunately, the various fire hydrants spots now have shops built on them by the same people who we are trying to protect.
“The market needs to go back to the way it was initially built to avoid being caught unawares like this,’’ he said.
The Sultan urged the federal fire service to train firefighters, acquire more modern fire-fighting equipment and trucks to fight fire outbreaks.
Mr Abubakar Altine, Chairman, Sokoto Market Traders’ Association, said that the association was willing to cooperate with the state and federal fire services to ensure that such an incident was averted in future.
Altine said that many traders could not salvage their goods due to bad road leading to the market.
“They could not even turn their vehicles around to exit the market, and this caused more traffic and prevented fire-fighters from getting to the scene’’ he said. (NAN)