By Andy Chukwu
Traders at the fire –gutted Santana Market in Benin City, Edo State, are counting their losses after the incident that razed several shops in the marketplace.
The victims said the aftermath of the tragedy had brought frustration and untold hardship on them.
Over 300 shops with goods estimated at millions of naira were burnt down last Saturday night as fire gutted the facility.
A trader was said to have collapsed and died having seen his shops razed by the fire reportedly caused by power upsurge.
Mrs Oribure Magdalene, one of the affected traders, said she lost two of her shops to the inferno.
“I have been in Santana Market for about seven years and I ran a double store, selling provisions and foodstuffs. I lost everything to the fire including the money I kept in the shop. Right now I don’t know where to start from. I am frustrated. That is my only source of livelihood.
“I have five children and my husband does not have a job for now. Things are hard for us. We are struggling to eat. We have no means of catering to our children.”
The 43-year-old woman called on the government to come to their aid at this time.
Another victim, Mrs Florence Idogen said she lost everything to the fire, including foodstuffs wares, soft drinks and refrigerator.
“I come to the market every day to see if anything is going on. I can’t stay at home doing nothing so I have to come out. I feel depressed each time I look at the rubble.”
Mr David Ominute from Igeuben Local Government Area of Edo State expressed frustration at the state of things following the disaster.
“I was called on the phone around 11pm that the market was on fire and before I got there, the fire had razed down everything. I could not pick anything. I watched as the fire burnt down everything.
“I sold frozen food and meat but everything got burnt. My generator worth N300, 000 and refrigerator are gone. The N250, 000 cash I kept inside the shop that day was also burnt. I don’t have anything to put food on the table for my family. It is relations and friends assisting us to feed.’’
Another trader, Mrs Grace Orumen from Owan West Local Government Area of Edo State, said her property was burnt before she got to the market.
She lamented that survival had become difficult for her family, adding that three daily meals, which used to come with ease, had become a luxury for them.
“I couldn’t pick a single thing from my shop. Today someone gave me money to get something to eat. It is tough before we eat these days,” she added.