By Adeola Oladele, Ibadan
Traders at the popular Songo Plank Market in Ibadan have started to count their losses following the fire incident that engulfed the market in the early hours of Monday, destroying property worth millions of naira.
The fire disaster which seemed to be an
annual ritual at the affected sawmill has
been a continuous occurrence for few years
Sources at the Sango plank market said they could not ascertain the major causes of the inferno, but the extent of the inferno was more than that of the last Friday.
To that effect, the Oyo State Government has said that it would raise a panel to investigate the circumstances surrounding the fire incidents that engulfed the plank market twice in three days, which it said resulted to losses estimated at several millions of naira.
Governor Abiola Ajimobi made this known when he paid a sympathy visit to traders who lost the property to the fire incident in the market on Monday.
The governor was represented by the Special Adviser on Communication and Strategy, Mr. Yomi Layinka; the state’s Head of Service, Mr. Soji Eniade; a former Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Ismail Olalekan-Alli; a former Special Adviser on Political Matters, Dr. Gbade Ojo; and a former Special Adviser on Security, Mr. Segun Abolarinwa, among others.
Addressing newsmen after the delegation had inspected the burnt sections of the market, Layinka expressed worries that the market could record two fire incidences within three days.
He said, “We are here to examine the extent of damage and to know the causes of the fire incident. That is, the one that happened on Friday and the other that occurred in the early hours of today (Monday).
“While the representatives of the market operatives have alleged of some conspiracy in the fire incident that gutted the market, the government wants to assure all stakeholders that we shall thoroughly investigate the immediate and remote causes of the incidents to ensure that whoever is responsible is brought to justice.”
“We will not tolerate this kind of situation; arson is not what we must allow in any community within the state. This government holds preservation of lives and property very dearly.
Describing Ajimobi as peace-loving, the governor’s spokesman said he cherished peace and anything that would make life more comfortable for the people of the state, adding that “this is a state where everybody has the right to live and trade within the limit of the constitution.”
The government delegation appealed to the people of the state, particularly the traders and members of the affected community to remain calm and shun any untoward act.
Layinka added that security operatives had been put on red alert to guide the market in order to prevent further losses.
In his remark, Chairman of the market association, Mr. Oladipo Faseyitan, while narrating the fire incident, said while the first fire incident was caused by a gas explosion from a nearby building, the second one could have been caused by a group of people who claimed to be the land owners.
He explained that his members had for some time been having running battles with the land owners who had told them to either vacate the community or face dire consequence.
Faseyitan, who said property worth hundreds of millions of naira had been lost to the inferno, called on the state government to assist the traders in mitigating the effect of the losses.
While briefing the government officials, the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of Sango Police Station, Mrs. Joyce Maiyaki, said the police had been providing adequate security in the area just as she commended the state fire service for its prompt response in putting out the fire.