Scores of people in Ibadan, Oyo State, on Sunday grieved over the loss of goods worth hundreds of millions of naira in a late night fire disaster which destroyed many small scale factories in city.
Eye witness accounts said the inferno started in the midnight, when all the factories owners and workers had retired to their homes.
The area affected was an old business hub, where there was a concentration of medium scale business factories involved in nylon and plastic production.
The factories are situated around Oni Memorial Hospital, off Bashorun MKO Abiola Way, Ibadan.
The incident, it was gathered, was traced to a spark from an electric pole when the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) restored supply to the area.
A source said the only person that got wind of the spark was one of the security guards on duty, who put calls through to owners and neighbours to rescue the situation.
The mini production factories, it was gathered, had been a hub of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the last 16 years within the neighbourhood operating in series of mass production of plastic and nylon materials for Nigerian markets.
At the scene of the inferno, owners, operator and workers were seen trying to work with the fire officers from the state service to put out the inferno.
About 15 production factories, over 60 machines, raw materials and produced goods ready for delivery within the premises were burnt to ashes.
Some of the machines burnt include cutting machine, extruder, injection, punching machine, printing machine, grinding, recycling, pellet machine and raw materials worth over millions of Naira.
While some of the business owners and workers were seen counting their loses, others could not control their emotions and were weeping uncontrollably, lamenting the situation.
The owners, mostly young university graduates, among other entrepreneurs operating in the hub, were said to rely on series of loan schemes.
It was gathered that some of them, who could not control their emotion, were yesterday rushed to the hospital for stabilisation and treatment after they got the bad news.
It was also gathered that about eight water trucks of firefighting brigades and support services from a privately owned agro-allied company, Zartech Limited Fire Section, were involved in the process, which lasted for about four hours.
One of the owners of the affected factories inside the hub, who managed to speak with journalists, Mr. Anthony Okpara, managing director of Topek Industry Limited, informed that the fire disaster has destabilised him as he did not know where to start from.
Okpara, who said his business had been grounded, appealed to Governor Seyi Makinde to come to their aid.
He said aside from losing millions of naira to the incident, his company employed over 50 workers.
He said: “I was at home when I received a call to come to the factory. I asked for what and was told that my two factories got burnt. It’s just like a dream.
“I wasn’t composed and don’t even know what to do and where to head to. Eventually, I picked myself and found my way here. On getting here, I couldn’t hold myself and where to start all over again.”
Okpara, who was emotionally depressed, added: “We have a lot of raw materials and good stocked for production, goods for delivery and several other chemicals all burnt.
“The factory is one of the biggest here; with two production factories- plastic and nylon, about 15 machines gone. And the worst part of it, we have some goods already paid for marked for delivery as from tomorrow, they are already on my neck now, I don’t know what to tell them.”