Abuja Riots: ‘One Trader Lost 10 Trailer Loads Of Marine Wood Worth N250 Million’- Victims Count Losses
Traders at the Deidei Timber Market whose shops, equipment and materials were destroyed during a riot on Wednesday have spoken to THE WHISTLER on the losses they incurred and the trauma they’re going through.
The crisis reportedly started after a gas tanker collided with two commercial motorcyclists (Okada), which led to the death of a woman.
Ifeanyi Chigbata, Vice Chairman of Dei-Dei Timber Market, located along the Kubwa-Zuba expressway, said on Thursday that no fewer than 20 cars were destroyed, while about 30 industrial machines worth N70 million each were lost in the fire that engulfed the market.
How It Happened
Chigbata said, “Yesterday was very sad and hectic. The incident started around some minutes past 11 am. It all started when a gas tanker collided with two motorcyclists (Okada), unfortunately, the passenger of one of the Okada boys was smashed by the tire of the tanker and the woman died instantly.
“So we in the market rushed outside to see what was going on, and you know Okada with their attitude whenever something like this happens; some of them may not like to know exactly what the cause of the situation is.
“They surrounded the place and started troubles and we were trying to calm the situation down and call the Road Safety officials to come and rescue the accident victims and the deceased.
“When the Road Safety officials came to evacuate the dead body and the injured Okada man the situation worsened to the point that they broke the wheel screen of the road safety vehicle. From there, the Okada riders started gathering in their numbers trying to burn everything that was on the ground, even as we tried to tell them that it was an accident and to maintain peace. We have been here for over 20 years, and this is where our entire lives earn from, and we don’t want anything to happen to our properties.
“Unfortunately they went back and ganged up. We were still settling with them from the front side of the market, but unknowingly to us, some of them had gone through the back, entered the market, and started burning things, smashed cars, and destroyed properties.”
Traders Suffered Losses
Part of the things lost includes, He said one of the traders took delivery of 10 trailer loads of marine wood worth N25 million each two days before the crisis, adding that all the goods were destroyed in the fire.
“A guy offloaded his goods few days ago and he hasn’t taken anything out of the warehouse, and the warehouse contained 10 trailers of goods, MBF, Hardboard and Marine board. A trailer of Marine wood cost about N25 million, and the machines here, some are industrial machines for Marine board and MBF. One of the machines is worth about N70million and over 30 of them were burnt. We will get in touch with the owners and evaluate.”
He said the traders were yet to fully take inventory of goods and properties lost to the fire but said over 20 cars were burnt while some were able to escape in their vehicles.
A Victim Speaks:
Olufemi Seth Olorunyomi, the owner of Elcasa Interior and Furniture, and his wife Bimbo who is the Creative Director were seen standing at the ruins of their store which was razed. He said he left the timber market 30 minutes before the incident.
“What I lost here can’t be less than N60 million. The minimum machine we have here is N5 million. That’s a panel saw, Mikano 65KVA generator, that’s the compressor, the edge binder, and others.
“I’m an entrepreneur, yes it will shake us a bite but then that’s part of the drill, you go down, you rise again and then you move. The target will be farther, higher than where you left before. We will look into our savings to see how we can cushion the effect of this.”
“We just had a brief with the Abuja Market Management Agency, and the managing director has instructed that they do a comprehensive report on the cost and value of the item and materials that have been lost. We’ll be working with the management of the timber shade and put up a report, and we hope to get help.”
His wife, Bimbo, was still in shock when she spoke to THE WHISTLER: “In a country where I am, I can’t move an inch and not get hurt, this is resources down the drain in one hour. I just hope I wake up and my head is intact by tomorrow because I can’t explain it.”