Oyo State Governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde, on Thursday, 16 April, 2020 visited the scene of the fire incident that razed some shops in Dugbe market, Ibadan, on Wednesday, 15 April, 2020.
Governor Makinde, who was accompanied by a number of government officials, told the victims and a crowd of sympathisers, who had converged on the location to possibly salvage remnants of their wares, that the state government would launch an emergency fund to address disasters and emergencies.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, indicated that Makinde commiserated with the victims of the Dugbe inferno and promised to get to the roots of the incident.
The governor, who described the incident as unfortunate and heartbreaking, maintained that the State would find means, despite the challenges occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic, to give palliatives to those that were affected by the inferno.
He, however, stated that there was the need for the State to have a Disaster Management Endowment Fund that will address such unforeseen contingencies.
He said: “I commiserate with the people that are affected. At such a time like this, this is the least of the things that we expect because we still are battling with COVID-19 and its social and economic impacts.
“So, we believe there is a need for the State to have an endowment fund for disasters. If such an endowment exists, right now, we would have given an immediate palliative to the people concerned.
“Meanwhile, we will try our best to see what we can do within the challenges we are facing.”
The governor said that at a time the State is still fighting to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, such an unfortunate occurrence like the Dugbe fire disaster was surely going to overstretch the state government.
He also admonished shop owners and residents of the State to always apply precautions and safety measures within their environments so as to avert unforeseen circumstances.
Earlier, the South-West Zonal Coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr. Silaku Lugard had told the people that NEMA would liaise with the Federal Road Maintenance Agency to do an assessment of items lost and provide the necessary assistance for the victims.
He said: “As soon as I finish my own assessment, I will do my own recommendation based on what I have seen and send to them (in Abuja). And I can assure you that I will never send an assessment that they won’t work on. So, they will surely work on it.
“I want to console all of them, particularly the man who owns a pure water company. He has lost so many millions. I know that it is difficult for the government to really give back all they have lost, but I wish that God will provide ways for them to start and come back to life.
“We, on our own part, will liaise with FERMA to see how we can do some awareness creation and bring some insurance company to work with them so that they won’t start all over again.”
Also speaking during the governor’s inspection tour, one of the major victims, Mr. Dapo David, said that the major cause of the inferno was not yet known, contrary to speculation doing the round that it occurred while a welder was working on partitioning one of the shops.
“Concerning the cause of the incident, people will say all sorts of things, don’t mind them. No welder will come here without my consent, even the tenants. We cannot say specifically the cause of the fire outbreak.
“Most of the shops were under lock, as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown. That caused the high rate of destruction. If the shops were not locked, it would not have been much. On what we have lost here, they are not quantifiable for now.