On Tuesday, June 2, 2015, an inferno caused by a fuel tanker carry 33,000 litres of Premium Motor Spirit  (PMS) ravaged homes and vehicles worth millions of naira in Iyana Ipaja, suburb of Lagos leaving many residents homeless and shop owners devastated. On Thursday, June 4, 2015, we spoke to some of the landlords, shop owners and witnesses. The affected persons lamented as they sold their burnt appliances as scrap.


‘I want the government to assist us’ -OKE, shop owner

How did you hear about the incident?

My neighbour called me around 2am that my shop was on fire. I had to leave my house immediately because I stay at Agege. I trekked to my shop in only shorts. I didn’t bother to wear a shirt. On getting here, we called the fire service and only one tanker came. We had to use buckets to scoop water to help calm the fire. We tried to open my shop because the locks were burnt already, the keys could not open it.

I had three doors to the main shop so as to secure my goods. So, I lost everything. I couldn’t rescue anything from my shop. All my freezers, fridges, fans, plasma television and all home appliances I sell were lost in the inferno.

How much have you lost to the inferno?

It’s more than N10 million. This is the biggest home appliances shop here in Iyana Ipaja. People know me. I have customers from Egbeda and other places. That is why people who are used to this shop were amazed. This shop has been in existence for six years now.

What would you want the government to do about this?

I want the government to assist us. It’s too much for us to bear alone. I renovated this shop in November 2014, so you can imagine how much it must have cost me. We did some expansion and bought more goods. We also loaned money from banks.

Did you insure your goods?

No, they were not insured. That’s why we want the government to come to our aid.

How have you been coping since the incident?

We come to this place every day, hanging around and hoping that someone will assist us. We don’t have another place to sell. We don’t even have goods. This is the only electronics shop around here. We don’t have an association that can look into this matter.


‘I am not happy at all’  -KADIRI ONIFADE, landlord

How did this incident happen?

It was one of my tenants, who knocked on my door at midnight to tell me we had to leave the house because it may be on fire anytime.

So, how do you cope now?

I am not happy at all. I am over 70 and at this age I should be resting. Although the governor sent a representative to inspect the place, we were also given a form to fill and our passports were attached. The government should help us. We lost all we had in the fire. I now sleep at a friend’s house.


‘My apartment was also affected’ -PETER, witness

What actually happened?

We heard that the trailer had a brake failure at Alagba around 10pm, but the driver effected some repairs so as to manage it to its destination. According to what some people said, touts were chasing the trailer because they wanted to collect money, but the driver didn’t want to heed, so he was speeding. He lost control and the trailer fell from the bridge. My apartment was also affected.


‘We need help’ -ORUPE SAMUEL, tenant

Can you tell us what really happened?

At exactly 1am, I came out of my room because of the strange sound I heard. Although we were having a vigil in my sitting room, about seven of us excluding my wife and son who were sleeping inside the room, immediately I stepped outside I managed to move to the main road, where I saw a fuel tanker on the road.

Immediately, I alerted everybody in the compound. We were able to move out of the place. The fire didn’t just start from here, it started at the next street where the petrol drained to. we all tried to contact the fire service, but they were not reachable. We started getting water from the nearby school to put off the fire before the fire service came with just one tank of water.

What have you lost to the fire?

Right now, I am homeless with my wife and son. The cloth I am putting on, I got from my neighbour. Everything in my house was burnt. Everything that has to do with a household, I don’t have again.

What do you want the government to do for you?

I want the government to assist us. As I’m speaking to you right now, a lot of people are homeless and many have lost property worth millions of naira. We need the government to help us. I am happy that no life was lost, but property were lost.

We need both the federal and state government to help us.


‘The government should help them’ -PASTOR OREOFE, sympathiser

Are you a regular customer at Iyana Ipaja market?

Yes. I buy all my electronics at Eche Best Shop.

How did you know about the fire incident?

I received a call from one of my customers that there is fire at the market, but I didn’t know Eche Best Shop was affected. It is the best shop around the market that deals with electronics.

As a customer, what do you expect the government to do for the affected people?

I want the government to do something tangible to help them because they were seriously affected. They lost a lot of money to the inferno. The last time I visited the shop, the owner had just returned from the market with a lot of goods.

Now, the shop is empty. They have lost millions of naira. The government should help them.

What is your advice, looking at the importance of insurance in business?

Insurance is very important in any business, no matter the size and what you do there. You should try to insure your business in case of something like this.

Personally, I don’t know if these people insured their shops, but I think it’s the best thing to do in any business.


‘The government should help us’ -MR. PETER, tenant

Can you tell us what really happened?

One of the tenants knocked our door at 1pm. At first we all thought it was just a joke but when we started perceiving the odour of petrol, we started stepping outside. The whole place was flooded with fuel.

What have you lost to the fire?

My house and all the property. I didn’t come out with anything. I don’t have anywhere to sleep or change my cloth.

How have you been managing?

I get help from neighbours that their houses were not affected. They gave us a place to pass the night and when day breaks, we move to the street.

What do you want the government to do to help the affected people?

They have given us a form to fill, and we have all done that. We are just waiting for the outcome. The government should help us. Right now, we are homeless but we have hope that the government will help us.

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