by Amara Christa
The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, on Tuesday, donated N50m to the victims of the fire that gutted some sections of the Otkupo Main Market in the Otukpo Local Government Area of the state in the early hours of Monday.
Ortom, who announced the donation after inspecting the burnt section of the market, said it was a palliative to support the traders.
The governor said he would set up special committee of his cabinet members and representatives of the traders’ union to liaise with the Chairman of the local government council to work out modalities on how the money would be shared among the victims.
He stated that the gesture was to enable the victims to start life again pending the report of the committee, which would work out how the market would be moved from its present location to a new place to accommodate more traders.
Ortom, while sympathising with the traders, lamented the damage caused by the inferno and expressed gratitude to God that no life was lost.
The governor stated, “The Otukpo Main Market, where our traders are trading, is no longer spacious enough for them. I will mandate cabinet members to join hands with chairman of the local government to work out things out for them to move to the new site. Also, we will impress on all the traders, who took the government to court to withdraw all the cases. Right now, the market is not spacious enough for all those coming into the market
“The government is quite disturbed about the spate of insecurity in the Otukpo zone.
“You must join hands with us so as to draw investment to Otukpo; we must be agent of change and volunteer information to security agencies.”
Earlier, the immediate past Chairman of the local government, George Alli, said the fire incident had brought untold hardship to the traders and urged the state government to assist them in rebuilding their shops and provide other relief materials, adding that the cost of items lost to the inferno could not be quantified.
He stated that over 315 shops were burnt but the cause of the fire could not be ascertained as of Tuesday morning.
Alli said, “We are making plans to relocate the traders to a new site. We just secured a place and we are making plans to open it up such that fire trucks and other vehicles can have access to the market whenever there is an emergency.
“The state Chairman of Nigeria Institute of Architects, Uloko, had called to say that he would do the design of the new market free of charge as his own contribution to rebuilding the market.
“The market has five entrances and the traders complained that firefighters came on time but there was no space to pass to extinguish the fire. All the five gates were locked and it was agreed that every day as the market close, you remove your fuse so that there won’t be electricity.”