Balogun market fire
Balogun market fire

The Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria (ISPON) has said that the recent fire outbreaks in the country were attributable to Nigerians’ poor attitude towards safety.

ISPON made this known against the recent backdrop of fire incidents in the country, especially in markets, with the latest hitting popular Balogun market in Lagos.

Safety Record can report that over 10 major market fire incidents have occurred in the country over the last three months,  leading to loss of lives and property. While three have occurred in Onitsha in Anambra State alone, the Balogun market fire incident in Lagos and two Benin market incidents are among others.

The National Spokesman of ISPON, Engr. Timothy Iwuagwu, said that the fire outbreaks could be traced majorly to negligence.

“The country Nigeria is a big country – the leader of Africa – and its citizens are expected to have got some level of education on awareness on basic safety issues. There is a lot of information on social media, in newspapers.

“We have a large volume of literature about safety. It is being discussed in religious gatherings, in community gatherings, yet this thing is recurrent and our reason is simple, our people are not taking what they have learnt seriously.

“The traders hardly listen to news; they spend all their time on social media listening to comedy or watching football and the effect is what we are seeing today,” he said.

Iwuagwu said that the lack of adequate market security and human traffic during these incidents were also contributory factors.

He lamented the situation where every inch of the market space is overtaken by trading activities, preventing emergency responders from moving freely during emergencies.

The ISPON spokesman said, “Some of them just rent the space in the market environment and the owners of the space or even the authorities of the market have no safety officer to ensure that unsafe acts and conditions are eliminated.

“Look at the situation even when the fire occurred, the respondents are not allowed to have direct access because of human traffic, no effective crowd control because the people themselves are too anxious to see what is happening or pick other people’s materials.”

He disclosed that there was a need for knowledgeable people to ensure proper market management and sensitisation of the people, while stating that accidents could be avoided.

“We need a lot of knowledgeable people to handle safety management within market places. Why can’t we engage the services of knowledgeable young graduates as safety officers within market places, so that these people will ensure that the use of electricity is monitored and controlled?

“Accidents are preventable; they are not caused by spirits. It is due to our negligence, failure to give instruction and failure to take instructions,” he declared.

The ISPON spokesman dismissed claims of foul play in the Anambra incidents, stating that the major foul play was human behaviour.

“Are they saying so because tankers cannot fall, that all the people driving tankers have stopped being reckless on the road?

“Are they suspicious in the sense that the tankers we are using on our roads are fabricated and by their configuration, are they meant to retain their liquid-tight integrity when the truck falls?” he queried.

“We are talking about something falling and within two minutes everywhere is having the product.

“It is volatile, it is flammable, (and) so what do you expect?

“The mere presence of other vehicles and the exhaust pipes and the engine temperatures around that area is enough to ignite the volatile organic material once the vapor density is enough to allow such fire.

“When a truck goes on weak gutters, the roadside can cave in and that will cause a tilt. When the truck falls and is spilling its content, they get buckets and start moving towards it and some people will go there with motorcycles.

“At the end of the day, many people will be consumed and this happens repeatedly,” he said.

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