The Association of Corn Millers in Ogbette Main Market, Enugu, has called on the state government for assistance, following a fire that destroyed goods worth over N200 million in the market.
The Chairman of the association, Mr Augustine Ogbonna, made the call on Monday in Enugu during a damage assessment tour by the state Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mr Sam Nwobodo.
Ogbonna said the incident had put the victims out of jobs and rendered them incapable of taking care of their families.He said no fewer than 150 bags of Bambara nut were destroyed, adding that each bag cost N50,000.
Bambara nut is a specie of pea used in preparing the state’s popular local delicacy known as “okpa.” “The incident destroyed machines and used in milling the goods, among others worth over N200 million.
“Also, the milling section of the market destroyed by fire is like the supply base of traders who deal in bambara nuts.It is from here that we supply the 36 states of the federation and even countries outside Nigeria.
“Most of the victims are now stranded as they do not have the means of repairing their machines. This is more than what we can bear on our own,” the chairman said.
According to Ogbonna, this is the first time such a fire outbreak has occurred at the mill in over 20 years. He said the cause of the incident was still a mystery.
Addressing the victims, the commissioner said he was at the site to commiserate with them on behalf of the state government.He said the government would do what it could to ameliorate their pains.
He said the state government was pained by the magnitude of the destruction and trauma the fire had caused them.“Do not lose hope because government will rally round you to ensure this incidence does not happen again but you have to be more careful.
“The state government will erect permanent structures at the mill to check incidences of fire. You are part of this government and that is why the governor has sent me to come and see you,” Nwobodo said.