FIRE GUTS KANO TEXTILE MARKET
Police cordon off premises || A large part of the famous Kantin Kwari Textile market in Kano State was razed by a fire that started at about 1 a.m Friday and raged through the night. The fire, the cause of which is believed to be sparks from a transformer, ravaged the market's centre for about 12 hours.
Over 1,000 stalls and hundreds of makeshift stands in 6 blocks of shops were consumed by the fire, resulting in the loss of billions of naira in goods and property. Two persons were said to have died at the scene while trying to evacuate their belongings.
The famous market is believed to be the largest textile market in Africa, with traders from West Africa, Central Africa and East Africa. The market also has a sprinkling of Lebanese, Chinese and other East Asian traders.
LEADERSHIP WEEKEND’s investigation revealed that the fire started around 1a.m when power supply was restored by the PHCN. Witnesses said the voltage was however very high, which led to sparks from a transformer at the centre of the market.
Due to the many flammable objects around the area, including heaps of polythene bags, cardboard and paper, the fire quickly gathered momentum and spread to nearby buildings. A source at the market said 11 blocks of about 2,000 shops were affected by the inferno.
The affected buildings include Gidan Labaran, Gidan Gwamnan Maradi, Gidan Bayajidda, Gidan Inuwa Mai Mai, Gidan Haidar, Gidan Alfa Wali, Gidan Ali Basher, among others. Most of the shops involved were those from where fabrics, bedding, shoes, jewellery and babies wear are sold.
Efforts by men of the Kano State Fire Service to put out the fire proved abortive. The fire continued unabated till sunrise when a reinforcement of firefighters from the Kano airport and private companies was secured.
Chinese merchants in the market got some firefighting equipment from two Chinese factories - Lee and Standard - to aid in bringing the fire under control. But with the level of destruction, and obvious defeat of efforts made to quench the fire by the state firemen, the state government had to request for yet additional help from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), which subsequently provided a rescue helicopter for the operation.
This combined effort finally led to the fire’s being put out at about 1pm yesterday, after 12 hours of raging destruction.
A trader in the market, Alhaji Muhammad Sani Alkanawy, who spoke to LEADERSHIP WEEKEND, said the intensity of the fire was such that an accurate estimation of losses incurred would be difficult. According to him, the average shop in the market contains goods worth N100 million, while makeshift stalls each have goods roughly worth N50,000.
The secretary of the Kwari Market Traders Association, Alhaji Hassan Yaro, corroborated the claim that the fire was caused by an electrical fault. He however, explained that investigations were still on to unravel the cause.
Said he, "There is actually nobody who can give you the full details of the cause of the fire, but what we are alleging is that it was an electrical fault." According to him, six blocks of shops were affected by the fire, adding that in each block, there is between 300 to 500 shops.
Commenting on the incident, the director of operations of the state fire service, Alhaji Kassim Abdullahi said the state fire service had done everything possible to contain the situation. According to him, the service had mobilised 15 fire fighting vehicles to the scene.
He said, "To my knowledge, there is no report of death, it's only three causalities, people that were affected by the fumes, and they are now alright, having been taken to hospital." Abdullahi stated that they could not ascertain the number of shops involved, as at the time of filing this report.
Speaking at the scene of the incident, the zonal coordinator (North-West) of NEMA, Alhaji Mustapha Suleiman said, "I got a distress call from the Kano State Emergency Agency, and on arriving here from Kaduna and after assessing the situation, I resolved to get NEMA's helicopter to come and help out."
Suleiman explained that NEMA would assist the people who have insurance, while assuring that They would assess the situation and send a report to headquarters.
Similarly, the Kano State Police Command has mounted surveillance at the Kantin Kwari Textile Market which was substantially gutted by fire yesterday.
LEADERSHIP WEEKEND reports that scores of officers and men of the command had been deployed to the area to prevent looting by hoodlums.
The command's public relations officer, SP Baba Mohammed, said the policemen were also controlling the crowd at the scene to allow the fire service men gain access to the affected spots in the market.
He said that although the crowd was not co-operating with the police, they were equal to the task of providing security in the area.
The fire, which started about 1 a.m, was brought under control at about noon yesterday by a combined effort of the state's fire service and some private companies in Kano.
Although there had been no official report of human casualty yet, it is believed that property worth hundreds of millions of naira has been lost in the disaster.
Such goods are mostly textiles stockpiled in hundreds of stalls and shops belonging to traders in the market.