There was a mild drama on Monday in the Daleko Market, Mushin, Lagos State, as journalists searched in vain for an unidentified trader who was said to have lost huge sums of money buried in her shop to the fire incident that razed the market on Sunday
Punch correspondant, who visited the market, could see the huge hole in the shop where the money was said to have been buried.
One of the traders, who spoke to PUNCH Metro on condition of anonymity, said the trader was in the habit of keeping her money in the underground, instead of a bank.
He said, “The woman usually keeps money in her shop, and would use her goods to cover it.
“But we are not sure if the whole money was destroyed by the fire. The theory here is that those that arrived first at the market saw the money and stole it.”
However, conflicting figures given by the traders made it difficult to ascertain the exact amount that was lost.
While some said it was between N2m to N5m, others put it higher than that.
But an attempt to speak with the said shop owner was unsuccessful as she was said to have gone to Alausa with other market leaders.
Meanwhile, other traders and shop owners at the market have appealed to the Lagos State Government to assist them to rebuild their shops.
No fewer than 120 shops were affected in the fire that reportedly started around 1am as a result of a power surge.
Our correspondent reported that the affected portion of the market had been left in ruins, while people were seen trying to gather what was left.
A vegetable oil trader, Mrs. Monsurat Abiodun, said she lost goods worth over N2m to the fire.
She said, “It was around 2am on Sunday that my neighbour called to inform me that the market was on fire. When I got here yesterday (Sunday), I discovered that everything was gone. All my life savings were in this shop, now everything is gone. Where do I start from?”
Another trader, Mrs Amope Lawal, said her drum of oil that was destroyed by the inferno was worth over N1.8m.
Also, another vegetable oil dealer, Mrs Idowu Adeniji, also claimed to have recorded huge losses.
A rice seller, Alhaji Kazeem, said he lost over hundred bags of rice to the fire. He said, “I am ruined; over 100 bags of rice were lost to this inferno.”
His friend, who is also a rice seller, who identified himself simply as Ibrahim claimed to have also lost 100 bags of rice to the fire.
The traders appealed to the state government to come to their aid.
“We want government to come to our aid. Our hope is for the government to allow us to rebuild this place, that is how we can recover our losses with time,” Abiodun said.
The General Manager, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, on Monday visited the market in company with the Iyaloja-General, Mrs Folashade Tinubu-Ojo on an assessment tour of the damage caused by the fire.
Oke-Osanyintolu said Governor Babatunde Fashola had directed the agency to carry out an enumeration and assessment of the affected victims and found a way of reducing the impact of the disaster.
He also said the agency would establish market emergency management committees in all the markets in the state to avert such disaster.
Tinubu-Ojo advised the market executives to cooperate with the government and put off all electrical appliances in the shops after the close of market.