Fire displaces 5000 Lagos slum residents

By IAfrica
In Nigeria
Aug 19th, 2014
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•Also in two other locations

THERE were wailing and gnashing of teeth when fire displaced no fewer than 5,000 residents of Oko Baba, a slum in Ebute Meta, Lagos Mainland.

The Monday night inferno gutted over 1,500 shanties.

The Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) said the fire, which started about 9.30pm around Kadara/Coates Street, destroyed properties worth millions of naira.

It was learnt that the fire which raged till about 2.37am yesterday, razed five bungalows constructed with sand concrete.

Sources said the inferno, which spread to surrounding buildings and shanties, was caused by an exploded generator.

The LASEMA boss, Femi Oke-Osayintolu, said it took the combined efforts of various stakeholders to arrest the situation early yesterday.

“Over 1, 500 houses made up of shanties were razed by the inferno. Also over 5, 000 people were displaced. Saw Mill equipment worth millions of naira, which were completely burnt down, include Spindle, Saw Machine, Band Saw, Circular Saw and Generating machine,” he said.

Fire fighters, who went to put out the fire, were allegedly molested by hoodlums, who also vandalised their truck.

They were said to have descended on the fire men for coming late.

The Director, State Fire Service, Rasaq Fadipe, said two trucks were on ground to fight the fire, adding that the vandalised truck was deployed to complement their efforts.

He described the attack as unfortunate, saying:  “Hoodlums smashed the windscreen of the truck and also man-handled my men.”

“People need to be careful of the way they handle electrical appliances and learn to quickly send alert if there is an emergency,” he added.

Fire also razed down a three-bedroom flat in a two-storey building at 24, Ayoade Street, Bajulaye in Somolu, while homes at the popular Oju-Irin (rail line) in Mushin were also reduced to rubble.

Victims counted their losses when our reporters visited the scenes yesterday.

An Oko Baba resident, Mr. Sango Apena, who said the fire started at 9.30pm from market Street, explained: “I could not believe it was going to spread this much because we tried our best before the fire fighters arrived. A number of things were said to have caused the fire. I really don’t know. I can’t count my loss but I am glad there was no life lost.”

A depressed Mrs Joy Bulagun, a Togolese, said:”There was no power supply, so people went to bed early. I jumped out of the house upon hearing people shouting fire! I was destabilised. I don’t know how my children and I will survive because we have no shelter now.”

Another victim, Mr Luqman Badru, said: “The fire was intense. Our houses, valuables and other things have gone with the fire. It is not our wish that we live here. Government should come to our aid because we know the prohibitive cost of having an apartment in the city.”

The Chairman, Lagos Mainland Local Government, Oladele Adekanye, expressed shock as he moved around sympathising with the victims. He also gave money to those who helped to put out the fire.

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