Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola has assured traders at the Ifelodun plank market, Ketu, of his administration’s readiness to support them financially in rebuilding the market which was razed by fire last Thursday.
Fashola, who spoke during an inspection of the market on Sunday, said the incident was unfortunate, adding that his administration was poised to assuage the losses incurred by the traders.
Fashola said it was unfortunate that the traders did not have insurance because it was very important especially in the event of fire or other disasters.
He said, “You traders are part of your problems. You ought to have insurance. All your equipment that got burnt, including the woods, should be handled by insurance companies.
“What we must do if you want me to help is that we must make it compulsory for everybody to have insurance because there is no way people as many as this can work in a place and there won’t be eventualities.
“So, insurance is for situations like this and I use this opportunity to tell traders not affected by the fire to also get insurance because it is not very expensive. That is how it is done worldwide and ours must not be different.”
While responding to questions from journalists, Fashola said it was ridiculous that some people were spreading rumours that government had a hand in the inferno which caused the traders to lose goods and equipment worth millions of naira.
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He said, “How can people say such a thing. People can be incredible. In fact, I will not dignify it with an answer.”
The governor also insisted that insurance was good for the traders, adding that if Nigerians could embrace the culture of insurance, it would improve the economy.
He said, “We appeal to all markets and companies that we should insure our businesses, warehouses and inventory of goods. That is what insurance is for. It is insurance companies that the traders should be talking to now and not the government.
“We will however intervene here and probably use this market as a model after it has been reconstructed and we will put them through insurance practice. We hope it is something that will gain foothold ultimately and it helps also to broaden the base of our economy and keep people in that business (insurance) at work.”
Earlier, the chairman of the market, Alhaji Aliyu Bello, had appealed to the governor to support the traders financially so that they could rebuild the market by themselves.
Meanwhile, it was learnt that the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency had begun demolishing structures affected by the fire.
An emergency official at the scene said, “We should finish demolition and evacuation of the debris latest by Friday and then reconstruction will begin.”