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Kano Markets Inferno: Travail Of A People



The market men and women of Kurmi and Rimi markets, suddenly do not have anything to call their own after an inferno ravaged their source of livelihood. ABDULLAHI YAKUBU reports from Kano, on the travails of the victims of the recent Kano markets disaster.


ife to petty traders at the Kurmi and Rimi Markets in Kano City can best be described as miserable after their shops were razed by fire leaving most of them wondering on how to cope with their daily needs.

LEADERSHIP Weekend findings at both markets revealed that most of the victims of the fire have nothing to call their own, after the monumental loss of their goods in the accident.

Some of the traders who spoke on condition of anonymity, described the incidence as the first of its kind, since the coming of Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje administration in the state.

Our correspondent, who was at Kurmi Market, one of the famous markets in the West African sub region, said the market was established more than 1000 years ago, with petty traders who specialise in various trades and constituting 90 per cent of the people earning a living in the market.

The lamentations of the victims, LEADERSHIP Weekend learnt, went beyond the millions of naira worth of goods that had been lost in the inferno, but the rich piece of history that was burnt to ashes, mainly because the market is believed to have preceded modern day Nigeria.

According to traders, the ancient market is more than a 1,000 years old and rich in historical facts about the ancient city of Kano. “What a loss of our history,” lamented a trader, Bashir Usman, who maintained that Kurmi can never be the same again.

Meanwhile, according to the chairman of Kurmi Market, Alhaji Ya’u Karas, the fire started as a result of an electrical spark which later spread and consumed about 10 permanent shops and 35 temporary sheds.

Karas, pointed out that most of those who lost their shops had nothing to lay their hands on in order to feed their families like they used to, before the incidence.

He said over N58, 760, 000 worth of property was lost while another N805, 750, 000 worth of properties was saved from being reduced to ashes. He added that the most beautiful aspect of the whole scenario was that no life was lost.

On the other hand, fire had also engulfed another very important market in the state popularly known as Rimi Market, on November 18, when the Kano Fire Service responded to a distress call around 7.35pm from the market that about 70 permanent shops and seven temporary ones were permanently and temporary alighted.

Speaking to LEADERSHIP Weekend in the market, the chairman, Rimi Traders Association, Alhaji Salisu Ya’u Yola, stated that what happened in the market was a serious one and traders lost valuables worth millions of naira.

“I personally welcomed His Excellency, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje to this market and he promised to do something especially to assist the victims to minimise the quantum of lost incurred as a result of the unprecedented inferno.”

Yola said that, although, some of the traders are trying seriously to reconstruct their shops, they had been advised to hold on, until they received further directives from the government.

In an interview with some victims of the fire in both Kurmi and Rimi markets, who spoke on condition of anonymity, they disclosed that most of them could no longer feed their families as a result of the consequences of the fire and were relying on the goodwill of the people to survive.

According to these traders, besides that, even if they go to the market they always stay idle, doing nothing to eke out a living.

The chairperson of the market association, Hajiya Kudrat, described their condition as very pathetic, since some of them were incapacitated financially.

The chairmen of the two affected markets, jointly called on the state and federal governments to urgently come to the aid of the victims who were mainly traders with small capital to do business, therefore there is the need for prompt government intervention in order to minimise the calamity that befell them.

Up till the filling of this report, none of the leadership of the two markets, LEADERSHIP Weekend learnt, had been given any form of assistance from either of the government agencies, especially the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

Although sources informed our correspondent that some officials of NEMA, who came to the markets, were seen taking stock of the loss incurred by the victims.

While at the Kano State Fire Service, the public relations officer, Mr S. Mohammed Ibrahim, told our reporter that the incident in both markets was most unfortunate. He added that both incidents were linked to the negligence of the traders who constantly left electrical appliances on, whenever they are done with the business of the day.

He said, in the case of Rimi Market, the estimated loss of valuables stood at N80, 500.000 and properties saved by the fire fighters amounted to N1, 660,500.00 and 77 shops were razed.

The image maker of the firefighting agency, identified ignorance as another problem associated with fire incidences at the affected markets where by a number of them do not know how to handle electrical gadgets.

He said the fire service agency had initiated new strategy of mass mobilisation and sensitisation of people on the ways to handle fire and electrical appliances to avoid the reoccurrences of similar incidence in future.