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Traders count losses as fire razes New Benin Market

Tony Osauzo, Benin

A night fire has destroyed goods and property worth millions of naira at the popular New Benin market in Benin City, Edo State.

The fire, which reportedly started at about 7:25pm, on Sunday, razed down over 25 shops at the market. Traders mostly affected were foodstuff wholesalers and retailers.

It was learnt that the fire started from one of the shops laden with assorted food items such as rice, beans and beverages, from where it spread to other areas. There were speculations about the possible cause of the inferno, with some people attributing it to power surge while others claimed it started from a candle light from one of the shops.

It was further learnt that the fire wreaked havoc for over three hours, while shop owners and sympathisers battled to save what was left of their goods before operatives of the Edo State Fire Service arrived to put it out. Looters reportedly had a field day.

Yesterday morning, one of the traders who rushed to the scene, collapsed after seeing that his entire shop has bedn consumed by the fire. The man, whose name could not ascertained,  was said to have been rushed to a nearby hospital for medical attention.

He was said to have kept N2 million cash made from previous sales inside his shop.
He lost both cash and goods to the fire.

Another victim, who gave his name as Samuel Ijezie said he lost his entire wares to the fire.

“I was somewhere close to the market to buy something. I saw people gathering around here; I don’t come to market on Sunday but, because of the gathering I rushed to the area to see what was happening; only to see it was fire but before I could come down, fire had taken over everywhere.

“I didn’t save anything; millions of naira wasted here. I lost more than two million to the fire; I did not bring anything out. The fire was everywhere; even my generator, I did not bring out anything,” he said.
Narrating his ordeal, another victim, Mister Chukwudi Anisieke, said he stockpiled his warehouse with assorted goods on Saturday night but it was completely razed down by the fire which him to loss more than N7 million.

“The entire thing got me tired. I am totally confused. I was at home yesterday evening when people called me on phone that New Benin market was burning.

“Before I reached here, everywhere had caught fire and I could not pick out a single thing from my shop. I lost more than N7million to the fire,” he said.

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