Tragedy struck traders in the grain section of Enugu’s Akwatta Market section of the popular Ogbete market when a midnight fire on Saturday gutted their shops, damaging more than 100 million Naira’s worth of food products, including over 200 bags of bambara nuts priced at #42,000 each, and the milling machines used by the traders in their businesses.

It was heartbreaking to see the tears of these traders, who no doubt brought in those goods for the December “season” boom in trade-most of them with borrowed money. It is a tragedy of immense scale that will affect the economy of Enugu state this Christmas season.

The chairman of the Corn Miller’s Association, Mr. Augustin Ogbonna bemoaned the incident, citing that the source of the fire is a mystery as that part of the market has no electricity. He pleaded that the government of Enugu state and other concerned citizens come to their aid to help mitigate the loss and create better security for the traders and their goods.

Barr. Sam Ogbu Nwobodo, the Enugu State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry has assured the distraught traders that government will definitely come to their aid. On his visit to the affected area to commiserate with the traders, he also asked them to cooperate with the government in any measures that will be drawn up to prevent such an event from happening again. He asked the traders to employ more careful practices that would prevent an incident of that magnitude in the future.

We can only imagine the pain that these traders are going through right now. The lack of insurance policies mean that when things like this happen, the traders are left vulnerable and bitterly in debt. The adoption of a trader-oriented insurance scheme by the government would surely help to cushion these tragedies when they happen, and not leave their many families hungry during this Christmas season.

Instead of collecting senseless and exorbitant taxes from these traders, the government should be involved in protecting their interests. After all, they are part of the engine of commerce that moves this state.

We hope to see timely and effective intervention by the government on behalf of the Akwatta Market traders.