Again, inferno guts Karmo market in FCT, goods worth billions lost

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By Ekuson Nw’Ogbunka

Another gigantic conflagration has on Wednesday consumed goods with billions of Naira in the popular Karmo daily market, located in Karmo community in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), this correspondent reports.

The inferno which started at about 1am on Wednesday couldn’t be quenched by the security agents, according to the traders who spoke to this media organization.

The market, being one of the largest of its kind in Abuja is known for the sale of food stuffs, provisions, beverages, meats, fish, among others. Karmo market whose shops were originally built with solid block cement by the military government, was however demolished in the Year 2006 by the civilian government, resulting into rebuilding it in form of shanties with zincs, by the traders, who had no other alternative, than to continue to fend for their families therefrom.

Although all efforts made to speak to the chairman of the market traders proved abortive, as he refused to make a comment, but the immediate past chairman, Makata Sylvanus when contacted said that, apart from minor fire outbreaks, the market has majorly been gutted by inferno on 1st day of December, 2017; 7th day of July, 2021; 31st day of March, 2022 and the present one that happened on Wednesday, the 17th of January, 2024. Makata however informed that he gathered that the market would soon be solidly rebuilt in line with the court judgement in 2018, as the traders took the government to court for demolishing the market

Also speaking, Kingsley Mba who came to Abuja in 1989; served in the market for six years, and started on his own said that they started experiencing fire incident in the market right from 2017 and this one, according to him is the fourth time.

“After the demolition, we sued the government and won the case in 2018 and since then, we have been begging the government to obey the court and rebuild the market with cement block, which if done, would reduce the regular fire outbreaks. Personally, I lost about N12 million to this inferno, because I just came back on 11th of January from my father’s burial. I used all the money I made during the festive period in buying goods and all have now been consumed by fire.

“During one of the fire outbreaks, NEMA came and gave us some small bags of rice and corns, without financial assistance. The traders mostly affected are the Igbo, because, the unaffected area are occupied by Hausa traders. In fact, it is the Igbo that suffer it,” he disclosed.

The Patron of the Market Traders, Felix Eze, when spoken to said apart from the goods lost to the fire incident, while they were trying to bring some wares out from their shops during the inferno, hoodlums were busy catting them away. Although he admitted that the inferno didn’t affect his shed, but was quick to inform that it affected his wife in no small measure, even as he believed that those who suffered from the fire outbreak were Igbo traders. Eze therefore informed that they were working with the indigenes to find out the causes of the regular inferno, maintaining that the fire outbreak happens in a particular area, where the Igbo traders shops are allocated.

The Assistant Secretary of the Market Traders Association, Zikirula Abubakar said that the shop where the fire incident started, didn’t have light, adding that what is sold in the shop are things like alcoholic drinks. While informing that the inferno took place in the market for the fourth time, he beckoned the government to as a matter of urgency and importance, obey the court ruling of rebuilding the market, even as he said that the fire affected all the tribes in the market and goods worth about N20 billion damaged.

The Village Head of Karmo Sabo, Chief Umar Gani Sarkin Karmo, when interviewed believed that, it is only God that knows the causes of the incident, saying that anything that God decrees to happen, no human being will stop it. While informing that they are investigating the cause of the regular fire outbreak in the market, the royal father prayed God to make government rebuild the market, as well as come to the assistance of the traders, because many of them, according to him either buy on credit or by borrowing money.

While speaking to HRH John Osai, being the Igbo paramount ruler in Karmo, he said: “I am not happy that this market is being gutted by fire everytime and goods worth billions of Naira that belong to my people, Igbo traders damaged. When this started around 1am, I couldn’t sleep again, knowing fully well that it will affect my people again. Let this be the first and last there will be inferno in this market, because if this happens again, I shall not take it lightly and the pepetrators will know that I am from Enugu – Ezike, Enugu state. I know many of the affected traders and they are Igbo traders.”

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