By Jude Atupulazi
The Anambra State Government has pledged to build a standard market at Ihiala following the fire that gutted the major market in the town last weekend. This was contained in a press statement signed by the Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr C. Don Adinuba.
The governor, Chief Willie Obiano, while expressing sympathies with the people of Ihiala, promised to lead the mobilization of the people in planning, designing and building a modern market in the town.
Also in a mesage through the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr C. Don Adinuba, who is an indigene of the town; the chairman of the Ihiala Local Government Transition Committee, Engineer Jeff Obi; and the traditional ruler of Ihiala, Igwe Thomas Obidiegwu; as well as the president general of Ihiala Progress Union, Chief Okey Chukwu, Governor Obiano regretted that a good number of both the indigenes of the town and people from elsewhere, including outside the state, had lost their means of livelihood.
‘The fire claimed not just buildings and market stalls, but also vital goods and, perhaps, even raw cash,’ Obiano said, noting that it was a wrong time for such a disaster to occur, especially given the prevailing economic condition in the country.
The governor promised that a panel would be set up to determine the cause of the fire and also make suggestions on how to prevent possible reoccurrences, noting that it was the fourth time a fire had occurred in and around the major market in recent years.
He said his administration would seek to complete the establishment of a fire service in the town but observed that the facility would be of little value in the market if it was not provided amenities like access roads.
‘A situation where the few available access roads in the market are converted to shops which make it difficult for fire trucks to move into the market to extinguish fire is unacceptable,’ Obiano said, while remarking that the Nkwogbe Market built in the 1950s was no longer adequate to meet the challenges of modern times.
He said the market was built with highly inflammable materials like corrugated iron sheets and planks, with traders selling combustible goods like petrol and kerosene in all parts.
Obiano said it was therefore compelling that a standard market and well planned market with sanitary facilities, an efficient fire service and state-of-the art electricity be constructed in the town.
He announced that the state government would work with the Ihiala Progress Union, the Igwe-in-Council, the Ihiala Local Government, prominent people from the town, and other stakeholders like the Traders Union and the Anambra State Ministry of Trade and Commerce, to provide a befitting market.
Governor Obiano described the Anambra State Fire Service officers from Nnewi who extinguished the fire as good professionals, adding that when the fire service station in Ihiala was completed, there would not be need for firemen to come from other towns to fight fire in Ihiala except to reinforce or support local efforts.
He also lauded the Ihiala youth for volunteering to fight the fire before the arrival of firefighters and for cooperating with them when they arrived. He asked some other communities to learn from the Ihiala youth and cooperate with firefighters rather than prevent them from doing their work.