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FCT Fire Service bans traders from sleeping in markets

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The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Fire Service Department, on Friday announced a ban on traders sleeping in the FCT markets to reduce fire outbreaks in the markets.

Mr Adebayo Amiola, the acting Director of the department, made the announcement at a news conference in Abuja.

Amiola said the ban was in line with implementation of emergency jurisdiction of the department’s mandates.

He described the development as very alarming, adding that it not only violated regulations but posed significant risks to personal safety and property.

Amiola, who expressed concern over the 226 fire incidents recorded in the FCT from January to June, added that sleeping in markets among other careless human practices contributed to high incidents of fire outbreaks.

He said that the Fire Service would enforce no-sleeping regulations within markets and also advocated the provision of alternative accommodations for traders where necessary.

According to him, building of shanties within the market increases the risk of burning and uncontrollable blazes.

He also said that the building of shanties within the market areas had become rampant, adding that the structures not only contributed to disorder but also served as fuel for fires.

He also said that the department would equally demolish illegal shanties and conduct regular inspections to prevent their re-establishment.

The acting director further said that the haphazard arrangement of makeshift shops further compounded the challenges.

“Disorganised layouts impede movement and accessibility, making it difficult for emergency vehicles to navigate during crises.

“These issues are not confined to markets alone but extend to our motor parks, where similar safety and organisational problems are prevalent,” he said.

He said that the fire service department would replan and reorganize makeshift shops to ensure wide pathways and clear access points for emergency vehicles.

Amiola also said that the fire service department was equally challenged by inadequate number of fire hydrants in markets.

He said that the availability of the essential fire fighting tools was far below the requirement for effective emergency response.

Amiola equally said that wrong electrical connections were frequent culprits in market fires, stressing that many installations did not comply with safety standards, creating hazardous environments prone to electrical faults and sparks.

He said: “In recent times, we have witnessed devastating market fires that have wreaked havoc on businesses and livelihoods.

“The recent one is the Karu Market fire outbreak. These incidents not only cause financial losses but also endanger lives.

“A significant factor exacerbating these fires is the blockage of access roads.

“Emergency responders are often hindered by obstructed routes, delaying crucial time of interventions and exacerbating the damage.”

He said that the department had taken steps to enforce regulations with a view to create designated emergency lanes for quick response.

On building collapses and other emergencies, the acting director, stressed the urgent need for stringent building regulations and regular safety inspections.

He said that the department would ensure that all structures within the city were built to withstand environmental stresses and comply with safety standards.

Amiola said that the FCT fire service would implement a comprehensive strategy, focusing on prevention and enforcement by organisations, including ministries, departments and agencies, market management, and other organisations.

“We have taken steps to enhance fire safety measures such as installation of additional fire hydrants at strategic locations and ensuring their regular maintenance.

“The department will equally ensure strict regulation of electrical installations by mandating compliance with electrical safety standards and conducting regular inspections with strict penalties for non-compliance,” he said.

On public awareness, the acting director said that the department would embark on massive awareness campaigns to educate traders and park users on safety practices.

This, he said, would be carried out in collaboration with emergency agencies, organisations and media to reach every resident.

“We will also carry out regular drills and training for market and motor park stakeholders and establish rapid response teams for emergencies,” he said.

He, therefore, called all stakeholders, including traders, market authorities, and government agencies, to cooperate in implementing the proactive measures designed to prevent fire outbreaks.

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