By Emma Amaize
Traders were crying, yesterday, as the popular Ogbe-Ijoh Market in Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State, was razed by fire— again.
The cause of the fire could not be ascertained at press time, but an eyewitness, who craved anonymity, said the fire started from a small portion of the market before spreading to other stalls, blaming the cause of the fire on electric power surge.
It was learned that soldiers deployed to the scene prevented hoodlums from looting the market, until some of the traders dashed in to rescue their wares.
The market’s issues
The Ogbe-Ijoh Market, which harbours illegally refined petroleum products ferried in plastic kegs from the creeks, is associated with yearly fire outbreak.
Vice Chairman of Ogbe-Ijoh Market Committee, Mr. Richard Numa, told the President of the Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, Mr. Eric Omare, who visited the razed market, that the makeshift structures were responsible for the incessant fire incidents in the market.
He also complained that lack of proper structures has been hindering the management, including the security unit, from handling emergencies in the market, adding firefighters find it difficult to access the market because of ramshackle structures.
Traders lamented that they have turned perpetual debt payers with the constant fire outbreaks that destroy their goods.
While sympathising with the traders, Omare, who bemoaned the persistent fire outbreaks, called on Governor Ifeanyi Okowa “to, as a matter of urgency, commence the reconstruction of the market.”
He added: “Since the Delta State 2018 budget proposal is before the House of Assembly, the governor should include reconstruction of the market to save the market traders the ordeal of persistent fire outbreaks and loss of their source of living.”
Omare continued: “Ogbe-Ijoh Market is the oldest government-recognised market in Delta State, established via the Ogbe-Ijoh Market Ordinance of 1894 and amended on August 14, 1937 through the Market Ordinance Amendment Act by B. H. Bourdillon, then Governor-General of Southern Nigeria.”
The Ijaw youth leader wondered “why markets of even lesser significance are being built and given attention, whereas the Ogbe-Ijoh Market, which is the biggest fish market in southern Nigeria and serves traders from more than 10 states of the federation, is not given the required attention.”
He recalled that there were attempts to build the market by the administrations of Felix Ibru and James Ibori, but since “nothing has been done towards reconstructing it.”