Cross River Traders Lose 649 Shops To Inferno In 1 Year


A total of 649 shops have been lost to fire incidents that occurred in Cross River State in the last one year.

The agonising incidents have left many breadwinners who are predominantly traders in pain, abject poverty and economic hardship, that forced many to beg in order to put food on the table for their families, with the hope that help might come one day from the government.

Between January and April 2024, Cross River State has witnessed about 10 fire incidents that left many victims who are predominantly market traders in penury, due to loss of their merchandise to horrible fire incidents which actual cause were yet to be unraveled.

The implication of this terrible experience is that most families affected by the inferno would no longer have to wine and dine on tables that bear rosy cuisines due to the loss of economic power of their breadwinners.

Fire incidents are recurring decimal in the country. In 2022, the Federal Fire Service recorded 20 fire incidents and losses worth over N9 billion.

In Cross River State, the State Fire Service (CRSFS), claimed it witnessed over 200 fire incidents between 2019 and 2023 in the state, with most of such incidents not successfully put under control.

In the last one-month Ikom alone witnessed incidents that consumed over 104 shops, worth millions of naira at the popular Lagos line at Ikom Main Market, Ikom local government area of the state leaving victims in helpless situation with no capital to kick-start their businesses all over again.

One of the victims, Mr Anthony Ofoma said names of those affected have been collated and sent to the state government through the state Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) who were yet to respond to the plight of victims.

Another victim of fire incident at Ikom Main Market, who claimed to be former chairman Market Traders Union, Mr Jonathan Okoro averred that even though no life was lost in the inferno, the incident has made them feel like dead men with nothing to show after several years on earth.

Another fire incident victim at Ika Ika Oqua Market Calabar, who doubles as chairman Market Traders Association, Mr Asuqu Etim while narrating the ordeal of the traders stated that many were still to recover the losses incurred after the horrible inferno.

He said that similar incident occurred four years ago after a group of female traders suffered losses in a fire incident and no one came to their rescue after several documentations by the then government forcing them to take to the streets venting their anger against the government for failing to come to their rescue.

While speaking on the cause of the inferno, a market trader, Mrs Stella Edem, said, „ On that fateful day around 10. 05 pm, I received a call that my shop was on fire. Before I could reach here, all I had in my shop was razed down to ashes by the mystery fire.

„Life had not been the same again since I lost my fortune to the mystery fire which till date we don‘t know what caused the outbreak.“

Another fire incident that kept tongues wagging was the fire incident that occurred at the University of Calabar, on February 3, 2024  around 8:45 pm, where the institution‘s  storehouse and   Students‘ Affairs Division, were gutted by the inferno leaving  office equipment worth millions of naira in ruins.

Neither the Cross River State Fire Service nor the Federal Fire Service were able to fight the fire, due to obsolete equipment. It took the courage and efforts of the institution‘s students to put out the fire.

Favour Chinwe Adeyemi, one of those who managed to survive the fire incident at Marian Market, said she had been forced to opt for loans to enable her save her business but now struggles to pay back wishing that one day the government would provide  firefighting equipment in order to deal with such ugly incident.

One of the market traders John Archibong who claimed to have lost goods worth millions of naira decried how his financial position had dwindled due to lack of government support in terms of grant or relief materials.

In reaction to the allegations that State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), was insensitive to plights of victims, director general of the agency, Elder James Anam, asked victims to be calm as the state government is going to do something to bring succour to the victims not withstanding how long it takes.

However, the state fire and Rescue Services (CRSFS) public relations officer, Peter Daniel Ewona, attributed the incapacity of the state fire service to inadequate manpower, poor infrastructure, lack of firefighting trucks and utility vehicles that would have made the job easier.


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.