A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oyo State, Asiwaju Rotimi Ajanaku has urged the present National Assembly to enact laws that will compel markets to take certain fire prevention measures in case of any fire incident.
Ajanaku disclosed that this is necessary in view of the recent fire incidents recorded in the state and other parts of the country.
Recall fire incident consumed more than half of Akesan market, an ancient market in Oyo town two weeks ago. Another fire incident was also recorded in some markets in Ibadan, the state capital a few days after.
But, Ajanaku while reacting, disclosed that legislators should sponsor a bill that will compel every owner of a market in Nigeria to take certain fire prevention measures.
Ajanaku in a statement made available to DAILY POST on Monday added that legislators should compel markets to manage the risk of fires in order to protect the safety of traders and visitors, consumers and customers and limit physical damage.
He insisted that every market should, through the legislation, has a plan in place to minimize the likelihood and impact of fires incidents.
He said, “Our legislators should also sponsor a bill that will compel every owner of a market in Nigeria (community/local government council/state or even federal government) to take certain fire prevention measures. Compel them to manage the risk of fires in order to protect the safety of traders and visitors/consumers/customers and limit physical damage. Ensure that every market has a plan in place to minimize the likelihood and impact of fires. There must be fire prevention strategies.
“Fire risk management is no exception: prevention is key. Ensure buildings are up to code. Consider all aspects of the construction, including the type of roof, what the primary structure is made of, and exterior and interior finishing materials. Ideally, buildings should be either fire-resistive or noncombustible.
“Regularly inspect buildings and equipment. Buildings and equipment wear down over time and fire-resistant materials can become less effective. Qualified professionals such as contractors, electricians, or certified inspectors should perform annual checks to see if any pieces need to be repaired or replaced. Build traders awareness and training programmes. Prevention is only effective when all individuals play a role.
“Designate internal safety officers for each market. Owners of markets must consider automatic or manual fire suppression systems that will stop a fire from spreading. Automatic fire suppression systems include sprinkler systems, chemical suppression such as CO2 and Halogen systems, and fire doors. Ensure that safety equipment are properly installed, regularly maintained and that all employees know what measures to take when fire alarm is activated.
“Evacuation plans and escape routes should be professionally designed, well displayed, and well-known by market management staff, traders and as well as visitors to the market. Regularly have fire drills so management can practice evacuation plans, and ensure they know what to do if there are customers in the market. Create fire preparation plans for any staff members who may need assistance evacuating, and have refuge areas where they can safely stay until help is available. Designate a meeting place at least 50 metres away from the premise where people can gather after they have been evacuated.
“Accordingly to the report gathered by a team of information experts sent by me to access the level of damage and possible cause of the fire that gutted Akesan Market in Oyo, the incident would have been avoided had the authorities that collect taxes and levies from traders every year put in place some simple precautionary measures at a price so ridiculously low to be compared with value of the havoc done now by the fire.
“Our economy keeps losing several billions of naira yearly to fire disaster which could have been prevented with an amount of less than 30% of yearly loss. It’s a great embarrassment and a disgrace to us as a nation. I would like to advise that the government should not just reconstruct the affected market but follow the international standard, engage certified professionals who are into real estate development, including architects and engineers.
“A fire in the marketplace is the most devastating hazards for not only the traders but the public as well. So fire safety is pretty important. Team of certified health and safety professionals must be in each of our markets to deliver prompt, cost-effective health and safety. A marketplace assessment for fire safety should be done for every new market or when the current market undergoes changes and fire extinguishers must be kept in each of the shops, all fire extinguishers should be routinely inspected. Keep aisles and stairways clear. Fire exits must be regularly inspected and maintained to ensure that they work and are not blocked by items stored in halls or other debris outside”.