Lagos Fireworks Explosion Aftermath: 1,500 Shops Shut At Jankara Market

No fewer than 1,500 shops have been shut following the firecracker explosions which razed 12 houses and destroyed property estimated at millions of naira on Wednesday at Jankara Market, Lagos Island.

Spokesperson for the National Emergency Management Agency in the South-West Zone, Mr. Ibrahim Farinloye, said, “About 1,500 shops have been shut because of the incident.

“Our concern right now is to take care of the humanitarian angle of this incident. This is an incident that is capable of pulling the affected traders back into poverty.”

Farinloye said the worth of goods and property damaged in the incident could not be ascertained for now.

He added that NEMA had instructed the state government to conduct an impact assessment to test the integrity of 20 buildings in the area.

Wednesday’s explosions bring to the fore the absence of fire hydrants in many parts of the state.

The NEMA spokesperson had said water could not be easily accessed after the incident.

Besides, emergency workers recovered bomb-like firecrackers in the debris of the warehouses on Thursday.

Some of the firecrackers that were shown to our correspondents by officials of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency measured about three feet in length and half foot in diameter.

The officials said the big firecrackers did most of the damage. As at 2pm when one of our correspondents left the scene, the firecrackers were still going off.

The state government’s bulldozers were also seen demolishing parts of some of the destroyed buildings.

Firefighters were on hand to douse the flame that was consistently ignited at the site with water.

Meanwhile, Commissioner for Home Affairs and Culture, Oyinlomo  Danmole, who is in charge of the state’s fire service, said efforts had started about a year ago to repair existing fire hydrants and install new ones where they are needed.

Danmole said, “This is exactly what we keep telling people, laws in the state are not made for state officials but for the safety of the residents of the state.

“Recently, the state government inaugurated its safety commission to take care of incidents like this. But individuals have important roles to play in ensuring that avoidable disasters do not occur.”

The explosion site was heavily guarded by security agents on Thursday. Policemen and men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps cordoned off the scene.

Traders count losses

Some traders had expressed fear that some of the less affected shops in the area might be besieged by looters.

Affected traders stood expressionless and watched as their multi-million naira property burnt to ashes.

A dealer in clippers identified simply as Ugo, was salvaging some of his goods from his burnt store. He said “I might go crazy if I thought about my losses.”

One of his friends, Yemi, said his (Ugo’s) elder brother who co-owned the shop fainted when he got the news of the incident.

“Ugo only came here to see if he could salvage some of the goods. He is not doing well emotionally,” Yemi said.

Residents accuse police of complicity

Some residents blamed the police for the explosions, saying that enforcement of the laws on banger prohibition did not go beyond word of mouth.

The residents recalled that about eight years ago, a similar incident happened in Idumagbo area of Lagos Island.

They lamented that the police post which is adjacent to the building where the fire started, knew that there were many warehouses in the area storing firecrackers but did nothing.

A landlord, Alhaji Monsuru Mohammed, whose three-storey building at 41, Ojo Giwa Street, was razed, said, “I built this house at the cost of N10m just two years ago and now it’s gone.”

Customs, Police need to be alert – LG boss

The Chairman, Lagos Island Local Government, Wasiu Sanni, said the Nigerian Customs Service and the police need to be more active as regards the use of explosives.

Sanni, while briefing journalists at the site, said the explosives ought not to have been allowed into the country in the first place.

Sanni said the state government was already making plans to mitigate the losses of those affected by the explosions.

Law on use of firecracker weak – Police

The Police Public Relations Officer, Lagos State Command, Ngozi Braide, said the police would go after the owners of the explosives later. She said the police wanted to handle the situation on ground before going after the suspects.

“After calmness has been restored in the area, we will go after the owners of the goods,” she said.

The PPRO for the Anti-Bomb Command, Gbolahan Moronfolu, however said investigations into the cause of the fire had begun.

Moronfolu said it would be hasty to say firecrackers caused the fire since the building where the fire started was used for various purposes.

He said, “Investigations have begun in order to determine the cause of the fire. We are professionals so we cannot say exactly that the fire was caused by banger because further inspection of the building revealed that a shop in the building also sells gas.

“The fire could also have been caused by an electrical spark.”

Moronfolu said the penalty for the illegal use of banger was not stringent enough and urged the appropriate authorities to amend it.

“According to the constitution, improper use of low explosives like banger attracts a penalty of just 100 pounds or a year in prison. This is not enough to deter anybody and we have started making moves to make sure the law is amended,” he said.