A midnight fire has razed over 90 shops at the biggest spare parts market in Uwelu, Egor Local Government of Edo State.
The areas affected were sections where Mercedes Benz, Mazda, Ford and Toyota parts are sold.
Some of the traders collapsed when they visited the scene. One was said to have almost ran into the raging fire.
The fire allegedly started about 11:45pm on Monday and lasted till 4 am despite efforts by fire fighters from the University of Benin and Army barracks.
When The Nation visited the market, sympathisers were consoling victims.
Daniel Okungbowa, who sells fuel and oil pumps, said he lost about N4 million worth of goods.
Another victim, Festus Maxwell Osaeruoname, wondered how the fire spread rapidly when there was no power supply to the market.
“We are yet to ascertain what caused the fire. We could not remove anything from our shops. Many boys just got freedom from their masters and opened their shops; they are yet to repay the loans they took from banks,” he said.
Chairman of the Spare Parts Dealers’ Association Ibie Osaretin Augustine said the fire had compounded the low patronage they were witnessing due to bad roads leading to the market.
Augustine said the four security guard hired by traders were being questioned by the police.
He said he received an anonymous call that the market was on fire and when he called the security man on ground, he was told somebody was burning something nearby.
“When the security man told me somebody was burning something, I told him to check properly and he told me it was the line where my shop is located that was on fire.
“I called the Edo Fire Service but they did not come. The entire market would have been razed if firemen had not come from UNIBEN and Army barracks.
‘’For now, we do not suspect any foul play but we have held a meeting to appease those affected and stall any suicidal attempt. We beg the government to rebuild the market because we trade with loans from micro-finance banks.”