By Shedrack Frank and Nathan Nwakamma
The Unified Non-Indigenes Association in Bayelsa has appealed to the state government to urgently assist its members whose goods and other property were destroyed by fire on Sunday night in Yenagoa.
The president of the association, Chief Chinedu Arthur-Ugwa, made the appeal during a visit to the scene of the fire at the Bayelsa Mechanic Village, Yenagoa.
He was with traditional rulers of various ethnic groups in the state.
Arthur-Ugwa, who conducted newsmen around the ruins left by the inferno, said that the assistance would enable the victims to return to business fast.
He noted that goods worth over N400 million, vehicles and several shops were destroyed by the fire which occurred at night.
The traditional rulers took turns to console the victims, while appealing to Bayelsa Government to assist them.
According to traders, artisans and technicians doing business in the village, the fire occurred at 3.00a.m. when they had closed work.
They suspect electrical fault as the cause of the fire.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the state Deputy Gov. Lawrence Ewhrujakpo had visited the scene and pledged government’s assistance to victims.
He also gave assurance that the government would set up a committee to probe the cause of the inferno.
A spare parts dealer, Mr Stanley Ejike, whose shop and goods worth over N10 million were burnt, told NAN that although the fire affected his business, he was grateful it did not claim any life.
He said about 13 vehicles parked for repairs at the workshop area of the village were burnt, adding that the incident had caused hardship to business owners in the village.
He noted that it took the intervention of the state fire service to prevent the fire from burning nearby buildings.
The Chairman of Automobile Technician Association in Bayelsa,
Mr Paniebi Abalaba, said the village built during the administration of Gov. Goodluck Jonathan years ago, had become congested.
He appealed to the state government for its expansion.
Mr Mike Eze, also motor spare parts dealer, said that he lost goods worth N50 million to the fire.
He said: “I don’t know where to start now, I imported goods last week and now fire has destroyed them all. It is a very difficult time for me.
“Some owners of shops close to me are still in shock; some who fainted after the incident are in the hospital now, but we are sure God will help us out.”