Goods worth millions of Naira were on Friday night destroyed by fire which gutted over 100 shops in the popular Marian market in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
It was gathered that the fire, which started from one of the shops in the fruit section, spread to other shops.
An eye witness, Ojah Ojah, said the fire outbreak started around 8pm on Friday.
He said, “The fire started from one of the shops when electricity was supplied to the area. We saw a spark from one of the shops and before we realise, the fire had extended to other shops.
“We called on the Fire Service but they could not respond on time. It took the intervention of the Nigerian Navy fire truck to help in containing the fire.”
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One of the victims, Eme Bassey, 54, said her watermelon worth N300,000 including her shop were all destroyed in the inferno.
Bassey said, “Three days ago, I received a supply of watermelon worth over N500,000 from my distributor in Makurdi. I usually sell and make payment to him, but this fire outbreak has rendered me hopeless for now.
I don’t even know where to start because my shop was burnt to ashes. This is too painful for me to bear under this harsh Covid-19 period.”
Director-General of Cross River State Emergency Management Agency, Princewill Ayim, who went for an on-the-spot assessment, sympathised with the affected traders.
“We are here to assess the extent of damage and to also document the affected traders with a view to ameliorating their situation, especially at this period of Covid-19 pandemic.
The state government is very responsive to cases of emergencies like this, I can assure you that something will be done to assist the victims,” he said.