No fewer than 20 shops have been razed down by inferno in a Calabar popular market, Ika Ika Oqua, also known as Marian market in Calabar Municipal area of Cross River State.
Baby wares, kitchen utensils, as well as some industrial tools amongst others were mostly affected.
Relatives and some market workers made frantic efforts to put out the fire with the aid of detergent mixed with water, but their efforts did not yield any result.
Some traders attributed the cause of the inferno to high electricity voltage and blamed the state fire service for slow response.
A victim, Mr. Friday Uzoma said that the fire was caused by high voltage which led to a power surge.
He said the inferno started at about 5:00 am on New Year day.
“I am not happy, because we made effort to call the fire service but they could not respond. They told us that they have no resources to put out the fire.
“We are starting from the scratch unless for those who sold out the stock before travelling and others who usually bring their goods from warehouses.
“A lot of the traders are even in the village for the New Year celebration but we have called and sent text messages to them about what has happened, as we speak many of them are on their way back to Calabar. We lost millions of Naira to this fire,” he said.
A trader, Mrs. Edema Samson, said her fabric wares worth thousands of naira had been consumed by the inferno.
Another trader, Sandra Nya, who managed to rescue some sewing machines from her shop, said it was a sad way to start the New Year.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Irene Ugbo, said policemen were in the market to ensure that hoodlums did not take advantage of the fire to steal goods.
“Police and other security agents were on site to safeguard goods as well as cordon off the area to stop hoodlums from taking advantage of the situation,” she said.