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Market Inferno: Fire destorys seeds worth over N150m in Nasarawa

A warehouse stocked with sesame and melon seeds worth over one hundred and fifty million has been gutted by fire in a market in Nasarawa local government area of Nasarawa State.

The incident, BusinessDay learnt, occurred in the early hours of August 19th, 2023, at about 3:am.

Efforts to get the state fire service personnel on duty to rescue the situation proved abortive, as according to the personnel, their fire fighting vehicle was faulty.

 

Lamenting on behalf of other affected persons, the chairman of Noma Tushin Arziki Cooperative Society, Ibrahim Salihu Ache, blamed the fire service for their losses in the market.

According to Ache, “I was contacted on the phone that a fire is burning in our cooperative warehouse; I had to rush to the warehouse at that time; only one shop was on fire, and that is where the fire started.

“I quickly went to the fire service office and met with the personnel. I was the one who even woke them from sleep to tell them that there was a fire outbreak in the market and our warehouse was affected.

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“And they said, O’ Alhaji, sorry, we can not assist you because the fire fighting vehicle has not been working for almost two weeks. I was shocked and had to return to the market disappointed.

“But with the help of people around, we had to struggle, but at that time, the fire had spread into some parts of the warehouse. We sincerely have to thank the Emir of Nasarawa and the Eze Igbo, our neighbours; the emir opened the gate of his residence to allow people to fetch water to calm the fire.

“So, we have lost a lot of things. What we lost at the moment are sesame (Ridi) and melon (egusi) seeds. Everybody knows that this is the season of melon, where farmers bring their farm produce to the market for sale.

“These are people who until they sell their melon before they can afford food to eat in their houses. So, going by our estimate statistically, we have lost over One Hundred and Fifty-Three Million Naira(N153,000.000.00), he recounted.

Ibrahim further explained that over 170 bags of melon are stored in the warehouse. Since the incident, they had written a letter of complaint to the Senator representing the zone, House of Representative members and the state House of Assembly member for intervention.

According to a preliminary investigation, he blamed the cause of the fire disaster on PHCN and the fire service for their inability to respond, which led to the fire outbreak and losses in the market.

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Abdulmumuni Ari, the member representing the Nasarawa/Toto federal constituency in the National Assembly, also faulted the firefighting personnel for the enormous losses from the outbreak.

Ari, who was at the scene of the fire incident to sympathize with the traders, swiftly donated Five Hundred Thousand Naira to help them evacuate the destroyed warehouse, where sesame seeds and melon were kept in hundreds of bags.

He assured the traders that he would do everything humanly possible to ensure NEMA and the Nasarawa State Government, under Governor Abdullahi Sule, intervene in restoring the burnt market.

The lawmaker, who spoke through his Media aid, said, “As you can see, the market is located in Nasarawa town, is not only patronised by our people of Nasarawa Local Government alone, but people from all works of life come in here to buy and sale.

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“This portion of the market which has been razed down by fire is one of the warehouses where sesame seed, known in Hausa as Ridi and Melon” Egusi, is stocked in large bags.

“I couldn’t have stayed longer than now to assess the devastating and disastrous fire incident that occurred on Saturday morning, leaving farm produce owners and traders counting their losses.

“From preliminary findings, I understood the fire started as a result of the unstable supply of electricity, which would have been brought down if the firefighters of the Nasarawa State Fire Service had promptly responded when the incident was reported, but I was meant to understand that they did not show up, talk more of tackling the raging fire that consumed the entire warehouse.

“I am their representative, and I will, within my capacity, do everything to make sure that NEMA and the Nasarawa State Government come in and help restore the hope of this trader who is already counting their losses in Hundred Million Naira, at a very critical economy situation as the one we are facing”, Ari submitted.