600 killed, 11,000 shops destroyed in market fires – NANTS

Six hundred persons were killed, 49 major markets were burnt and over 11, 000 shops were destroyed between December 1, 2010 and March 26, 2016, the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) has said.

(The Minna Shopping Complex in Niger State was burnt on Dec. 1, 2010 while the Birnin Kebbi Central Market was burnt on March 26, 2016).

President of the association, Barrister Kenneth Ukaoha, said yesterday in Abuja at an emergency meeting of the association that there were 16 fire incidents in 2016 so far, including three in Kano, two in Ibadan and another on Wednesday at the Ikom Main Market in Calabar.

“Apart from the loss of lives and property worth over N3tr, none of the affected markets had insurance coverage, about 85 percent of the fire incidents was said to have been caused by electricity surge and associated problems, only about 12 percent of the incidents attracted government sympathy and of the promises made by the visiting government officials, only about three percent was fulfilled. Yet traders in Nigeria contribute the nation’s second largest revenue earnings from import duties and sundry taxes/levies after oil,” Ukaoha said.
He added: “Most importantly is that many lives have been irretrievably lost in market infernos with no serious investigation carried out at least to forestall future occurrences. These leave us to question the presence, the existence and the role of government. NANTS conducted a census and analysis of market fires across the country spanning over 10 years.”
He said the most shameful and annoying finding was that Nigeria has had more market fires during civilian rule than under military regimes.
He said though the provisions of the Fourth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution placed markets under the control of local government authorities, the federal government cannot watch the councils mismanage the opportunity as the nation lost over N5.3trn to market fires between May 1999 and March 2016.

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