Traders watch as goods are destroyed by fire at Onitsha Market in 2022
Fires have become a rising source of concern for Nigerians, notably the frequent occurrences of market fires.
These fires have resulted in the loss of life and property, as well as imposed financial hardship on victims.
Livelihoods are jeopardised, with billions of naira worth of items destroyed, leaving people jobless and hopeless.
According to media report, over 50 fire outbreaks were recorded in different markets across Nigeria between November 2020 and August 2021.
These markets included Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja, Sokoto, Kano, and Edo.
Also in the report, from November 2019 and 2022, the famed Balogun market in Lagos, for example, saw six fire outbreaks.
The Maiduguri Central Market, known as the Monday market, caught fire in February 2022. Also, the largest grain market Gamboru went up in flames in March.
Three fires broke out in Kano markets in March; Singer, Kurmi, and Rimi.
What are the root causes of these market fires?
The majority of these fires are said to have begun in the early hours of the day, when the market is closed, therefore they are discovered late.
After examining the incident at Kano’s Singer Market, ACG Ahmed Garba Karaye, the Zonal Controller of the Federal Fire Service in charge of Kano and Jigawa, blamed the increased cases of market fire outbreaks on high temperatures during the dry season and surges from electric equipment left on by vendors.
Another concern is the market structure, as most of them are not built to standard, with subpar electrical connections, making it easy for fire to break and spread.
The losses incurred as a result of these incidents are felt not only by the victims, but also by the state and country as a whole, as infrastructure must be replaced and assistance provided to victims.
As a result, governments must spend in standardising markets across the country.
The lack of fire hydrants is also a contributing factor to the firefighters inability to put out flames on time.
The government should think about supporting the fire department to provide working fire hydrants or other water sources to help them fight fires more efficiently.
The federal government must fulfil its promise to install fire stations within marketplaces as soon as possible.
Traders must be educated on safety and fire prevention, as well as to be aware of the importance of disconnecting all appliances from sockets when not in use.
These methods will mitigate the effects of market fires while also protecting lives and property.
Writing by Annabel Nwachukwu; Editing by Saadatu Albashir