Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN, on Tuesday visited and commiserated with victims of the Balogun Market fire disaster in Central Lagos, urging them to embrace the practice of insuring their investments and properties against such unforeseen incidents.
Addressing traders after inspecting the ruins of goods and houses caused by the inferno which ravaged the Market on Monday, Governor Fashola, who stressed the value of insurance in business and daily life, said apart from taking simple safety measures like not storing inflammable materials in business premises and in homes, it was also important that citizens embraced the practice of insuring their goods and properties against unforeseen disasters.
The Governor recalled that he had on some occasions appealed to the leadership of the various traders’ unions to meet and educate their membership on the value of insurance, pointing out that since the premium of such insurance are often not a lot of money the traders could find it handy when emergencies like fire disasters happen.
Pledging to work with the unions to help create such insurance, if necessary, in partnership with some of the insurance companies, Governor Fashola said some of the companies offer special packages that address the levels of people who do not have big businesses, but need nonetheless to secure their investments without necessarily dipping, in any significant way, into their profits.
The Governor recalled that in the past, Insurance companies used to be much more dynamic and responsive in getting people to market policies at market places where ordinary people are and educate them about the value of policies adding, “I think it is good also for that sub-sector of the finance industry to revitalize the insurance business if there is this kind of demand, it will also create employment in that sector of the economy other than banking”.
He described as a sad reflection of Federal Government’s failure to supply a basic need to the citizens the complaints of power surge which often result in fire disasters adding, however, that power distribution is a risk which, according to him, “is accentuated by either an unauthorized connection or multiple generators”.
The Governor said although people have to generate their own Power as a result of the failure of the Federal Government in this direction, people should be very careful in the way they managed their generator explosions adding, “We have lost too many lives to generator explosions, we have lost too many lives to carbon monoxide poison and all of that and people should remember to switch off all their appliances at the end of the business day, disconnect them before they shut down their premises”.
Commending the capacity of the State Fire Service to contain the fire, Governor Fashola expressed gratitude to God that the incident did not result to loss of life adding, “There used to be a Federal Fire Service in this place, it is gone and what you have now is a full complement of Lagos State Fire Service with equipment that we received late last year”.
“Yesterday, they responded to about 18 fires, so you should just imagine what conditions, what situation would it have been today without these fire engines. That is the power of our Government to respond and to use taxpayers’ money to provide this kind of fire fighting, lifesaving equipment”, he said adding, “And as I have always said, security of lives and properties is my top job and it is my most important job”.
Earlier in his remarks at the Market, General Manager of State’s Emergency Management Agency, (LASEMA), Mr. Femi Osanyintolu noted that the major causes of the fire outbreaks at the market was that the people were not safety conscious adding that they kept lots inflammable materials including generators inside their shops.
He commended the State Fire Service saying with the equipment available to them, they were able to curtail the fire. He said they had to do controlled demolition in order to control the spread of the fire adding that his agency had invited the State’s Building Control Agency and Solid material Testing Agency to look at all the affected buildings to attest to their structural stability.
In his own remarks, Director Lagos State Fire Service, Mr. Razak Fadipe, said the information gathered was that workers of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) came on the day of the incident to work on the transformer in front of one of the buildings in the market and when light was restored in the area later, there was an explosion which resulted in the fire.
He, however, noted that the Service was on top of the situation as it fought the fire gallantly adding, “We are not going to leave here until we ensure that there is no smoke coming out of the building anymore”
Among those present at the scene were Commissioner for Special Duties, Dr. Wale Ahmed and his Works and Infrastructure and Sports and Youth Development counterparts, Dr. Obafemi, Hamzat and Mr. Waheed Oshodi, rescue teams, shop owners and market leaders among other