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» » DETAILS OF HOW FIRE DESTROYED OVER 4,000 SHOPS AT SABON GARI MARKET KANO
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A fire outbreak yesterday at the Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi market, popularly known as the Sabon Gari market in Kano State destroyed over 4,000 shops and goods worth billions of naira.

Traders said the fire started around 11pm on Friday, from shops selling shoes and spread through the night to other sections, razing hundreds of shops

State fire officials said the inferno was put out around 2pm, after raging for over 12 hours.
Many affected traders were rushed to the hospital after collapsing due to shock, upon seeing their shops being on fire.

The market, which is one of the largest in the state, had suffered a major fire incident in 2007. Also in December last year, a fire destroyed over 200 furniture shops.

Shop owners said they suspected power upsurge for yesterday’s fire, but the company supplying electricity to areas around the market denied the allegation.

It was gathered that after destroying the first block at the shoe section of the market, the fire spread to other parts near the Sani Abacha mosque at the centre of the market. The inferno also gutted the branch of a bank situated within the market.

On a visit to the market around 12pm, the fire was still ravaging more shops, while officials of the state fire service department, traders and sympathizers were making efforts to put it off.
Our correspondent observed that additional fire fighting vehicles from other places were deployed to the market as reinforcement.

However, the fire fighters could not gain access to many shops to prevent the fire from spreading, as some traders had blocked the access roads with their goods.

Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that dealers of drugs, shoes, noodles, wrist watches, drinks, clothing materials, perfumes, chemicals, electronics, jewelries and glasses, as well as other consumables were the worst affected victims of the inferno.

Security was beefed up in and around the market apparently to prevent hoodlums from looting properties. Policemen, civil defence personnel and members of vigilante group were stationed at various entrances of the market.

A trader, Auwal Yusuf told Daily Trust on Sunday that the inferno started at about 11pm Friday from the shoe section of the market and then escalated to other blocks, destroying about 30 blocks containing 22 shops each.

Other affected traders, who spoke, blamed the market authorities, government and the Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO) for the unfortunate incident.

A trader, Mubarak Alhassan Abubakar, 33, expressed disappointment with the market authority, saying “since the 2007 fire incident, the market has been disconnected from the national grid but the present managing director of the market reconnected the market recently.”

Abubakar, a graduate of Nigerian Languages from the Bayero University Kano (BUK) explained that traders relied on generators to power their shops. He said under the former arrangement, “electricity was being supplied from 10am to 6pm daily and since we started this arrangement we never had any fire outbreak in the market until after the market authorities reconnected us to the national grid.”

He lamented that “the fire outbreak was caused by electrical sparks. At the time the fire was ravaging shops, there was light in the  market and some electrical wires aided the fire by spreading it to other shops.”

Another trader, Abubakar Ali Lambu, said: “I arrived at the market around 2am and even at that time the fire had already caught my shop and there was nothing I could do to remove some goods from my shop.

Over 500 shops have been destroyed by the fire.”

Lambu, who sells consumable goods in the market, accused government of negligence in handling fire outbreaks, noting that the fire service personnel in the state were not fully equipped to face such situations.

Mahmoud Sarki, a shoe dealer, said he had lost goods worth N3m and N2m in cash to the inferno, saying: “I have lost everything to the fire, including my N2m cash. I was not able to remove anything from my shop when I arrived. In fact, the fire had completely destroyed my shop before I arrived.”

Sarki explained that he was called on phone by a friend and informed about the incident around 2am.

It was also gathered that other traders lost millions of naira to the fire, as many of them had stored the money in their shops waiting for the Easter holidays to be over before they take them to the bank.

Reacting to the traders’ allegations, the Public Relations Officer of the Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO), Muhammad Kandi, said Sabon Gari market had since been disconnected from the national grid because most of the traders were not paying their electricity bills.

Kandi said: “The market has been disconnected for a very long time. In fact, as of yesterday there was no electricity on the feeder supplying the entire Sabon Gari area. So it is not true that the fire was caused by an electrical spark.”

When contacted, the Director of Kano State Fire Service Department, Alhaji Mustapha Rilwanu, confirmed that the fire was put out around 2pm, saying “we have succeeded in putting the fire under control now. We are presently mopping up the fire because there are still some places here and there where the fire is still on.”
Rilwanu added that the service could not ascertain the cause of the fire and or assess the level of damage it had caused, saying this can only be done after the Easter holiday.

In a special broadcast, the state governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, sympathized with victims of the fire and assured them that the Kano State government would do everything within its power to forestall future occurrence.

“Part of the measures we have resolved to take is to construct more access roads in all our markets and provide additional fire fighting vehicles and equipment. We will do this very soon,” he said.

He, therefore, appealed to traders in the state to remain calm, saying government would do everything humanly possible to improve the welfare of traders in the state.

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