By Kayode Adegbehingbe
Just last week, fire razed down a market in Kaduna State. Though no life was lost, the livelihood of many was destroyed and it will probably take years before they recover, if ever.
The incident of fire outbreaks in markets have been a common denominator in the country. But this is something better seen on TV than experienced, it is better far away than close to home.
It is not just about the fact that this is dry season, but more needs to be done in such connected and congested places like the market to make it secure.
It is natural to make different places secure against thieves, and because of that, locks are provided, but what we discovered is that such preventive provision are not made against fire.
When fire razes, people need to be held accountable, but that cannot happen when there are no available provisions in the law, laying out the minimum standards of fire prevention in both public and private places and buildings.
The fire fighting capability of the Fire Fighting Establishments must be enhanced for the good of all. And there is the issue of insurance. This aspect of the economy has not developed in the country, where what’s majorly insured are vehicles and that is because of the law providing for it. We need to have a similar thing for marketplaces.
What happens many times after fire outbreaks is that nothing is done to dig into the reason and recommendations made to prevent a re-occurrence. What happens is that there are a lot of commemoration, a lot of “eeyas” and maybe a disaster management agency provides some relief, but that is that. Because we do not learn from the past, it seems we are bound to repeat it. What we need is a change of course.
We need to investigate causes of fire outbreak and recommend steps to take to prevent a re-occurrence. Overtime this will definitely form a concrete policy on which we build ourselves into a modern society.
Its been said that Rome was not built in a day. But it is not just about the physical structure that is important, but also the social contracts, laws, practices, values that define the state.
The issue of insurance cannot be pushed aside. Just the way we pay tenement rates, we should pay insurance rates, so that in the undesirable events of fire outbreaks, losses can be covered. The insurance companies should come up with innovative products that put our unique environment, where poverty is rife, into consideration. And disasters like fire outbreaks can further plunge more people into the poverty valley.
As much as they need to follow the conventional practices, they should not be blind to the peculiarity of the Nigerian situation. A Yoruba Proverbs translates to English thus: you cannot restore a starving child in one serving of food.
Everyone needs to be careful, take the necessary precaution. Before we arrive at enacting any relevant law, the stakeholders need to have their say, the people need to have their input. In that process, the enlightenment spreads as the process of formulating the right gets underway.
And if the provision concerning market fire outbreak is already available, they should be dug out and the people made to know about them.
When investigations are carried out and someone is found to have done what is not right leading to the outbreak, such should face the music, as a caution to others. We can be described as a nation of many laws but little enforcement.
To prevent fire outbreak, everyone has a role to play. Recently, as reported by The Hope, the Ondo State Commissioner for Special Duties, Culture and Tourism, Mr Femi Adekanmbi visited Nepa Market in Akure and charged the people on the need to be careful regarding fire outbreaks.
There are also jingles on radio station from the Ministry of Information urging people to take precaution. Those are good steps. Everyone has something to gain when we successfully prevent fire outbreaks in our environment.