Fire Outbreak Costs Nigeria N6trn In 5 Years

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By CHIKA IZUORA, Lagos

Incessant fire outbreaks has cost the national economy about N6 trillion in the last five years, with major cities like Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt , Abuja experiencing serious consequences of the scourge.

The president of Fire Disaster Prevention and Safety Awareness Association of Nigeria, Badanga Ahmed Lamidi, who disclosed this in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP Sunday, said fire outbreaks in the country have become a perennial problem, with many reported cases happening at the federal state levels.

Noting that the figure could be higher if there was operational Fire Statistics Database, Lamidi said, “However, our Association created a National Fire Statistics Databased launched in 2014 in partnership with Federal Fire Service but it is yet to be fully functional.

“But so far, the country can be said to have lost an estimated N6trillion to different fire incidents across the country in the last five years. For instance, the Kano market fire alone was estimated at about N2 trillion worth of goods which was lost to a single fire incidence”.

Lamidi stressed that the frequent fire outbreak in Nigeria, no doubt, poses serious threat to the national economy, as it leaves enormous material damage, injury to persons and disruption of economic and commercial activities of the people affected.

He continued: “The economic implications of fire outbreaks to investment and growth of the nation cannot be over emphasized. The high incident rate of market fire in particular has serious economic consequences of depriving trader’s means of livelihood and threatening the survival of several market men and women who expectedly were breadwinners of their families not to talk of huge investment loss through other means such as industrial fires, oil and gas and other national asset”.

He observed that the present effort in containing fire outbreaks is significantly challenged.

Lamidi observed that though at the federal level, there is tremendous improvement in the funding and equipment holding of the federal fire service, the present administration under President Muhammadu Buhari has for the first time invested substantially in the infrastructure and equipment for the federal Fire service.

He said, “With the recent delivery of the first batch of firefighting trucks to the federal fire service out of about 23 trucks being expected is no doubt a milestone achievement in the history of Fire Service.

“However, the same cannot be said about Fire Services at the State and local government levels, since fire service is more or less placed at concurrent list, which mandates the Fire service to be under the jurisdiction and control of the states.

“The major challenge is how to redirect the mindset of the state governors to also see the need to invest in the fire sector. Unfortunately, all attempts to make this possible have never been successful except for some few states that are making some efforts.

“Fire Service in Nigeria needs a general overhauling, re-engineering and repackaging and to actualize this phenomenon, a situation whereby all Fire Services in Nigeria (states and federal) come together as one unified body and under one umbrella would be a step in the right direction as it will enhance uniformity as well as ensuring standard in the service”.

Lamidi said this has become imperative because as part of its statutory functions, the Fire Service does not only prevent and mange fire disasters in the country but is also a first responder to all manner of distress calls such as in the event of road accidents, someone falling into a pit and other mishaps for rescue purposes.