The traders told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that rent in the market had gone up by over 75 percent.
NAN reports that the fire incident which occurred on Jan. 12 destroyed five buildings in which goods estimated at millions of Naira were stored.
Most of the traders who spoke to NAN claimed they renewed their rent at the burnt plaza the week before the fire incident occurred.
One of the traders, Kemi Abayomi said: “The estate agents have no pity for us. They are inconsiderate to our plights.
I borrowed money from friends to rent a space but I was asked to pay N350,000 per annum.
The price is so outrageous because attachment space ranges from N150, 000 to Ñ200, 000 in the market.
They also demand between N500, 000 and N700, 000 per annum for two years for shops that go for N300, 000 per annum’’.
Another trader, Florence Madukwe, said that the vacant shops were not on the ground floor but third or fourth floor of some of the buildings.
“How many customers would be willing to climb to such a height?
The agents are capitalising on our plights to exploit us.”
Barely four days after the Balogun fire incident, the Berlin market in Marina was also gutted by fire on Jan 16 and over 1,000 shops with goods worth millions of Naira were destroyed.
At both markets the traders appealed to the Lagos State Government for financial help to restart their businesses.
Many of them, who wore gloomy looks, told NAN that they had resorted to begging after the fire incident.
They said life had been difficult since their means of livelihood was destroyed by the fire.
Akanchawa Okafor told NAN at Balogun that she lost over N8 million to the fire.
“I am a wholesaler of shoes and bags which I usually import from the U.S. and Bangkok.
I just offloaded two containers filled with goods into my two shops on Friday and Saturday before the fire occurred.
I passed out when I heard the news and I just recovered. I have been having nightmares because I have been reduced to nothing.
I am in a big mess because I now beg for transport fare to the market. The government should come to our aid quickly,’’ she said.
Another trader, Bukola Adeeko said, “We are still expecting the government to come to our aid because we have been idle since the incident.
My children’s school fees and house rent are pending.
I am a widow. I sell assorted beads and lost goods worth about N2 million to the fire.’’
Yusuf Bello said that “the governor of Lagos State had promised to help the traders when he visited the markets after the incidents.
We hope it is not a lip service or campaign strategy for electioneering period.
We are still expecting assistance from the government because we are suffering and life has not been the same since the incident occurred,’’ he said.
Aina Osuji said that she collected some items on credit from other traders to enable her eat with whatever profit she would realise from the goods.
“I sell shoes and bags in the burnt complex. I lost goods worth N5 million to the fire.
I am a single mother. I have three children whom I train single handedly since their father deserted us. This incident is a setback,’’ she said.
Onyebuchi Oli, a cloth seller at Berlin Market, said the fire incident had different impact on traders in the market.
“The fire affected some traders more than others, some of them lost all they have and are reduced to begging, while some of us were fortunate to have some of our goods stored elsewhere.
Waiting for the government to fulfill its promise of assistance might be futile that’s why we have decided to start again with the little we have.
My belief has been that any serious business person who intends to succeed must never depend on anyone because they can change at any time and disappoint you,’’ he said.
Alhaja Lutifat Ojikutu, the Iyaloja of Balogun Market, said that the names of traders affected by the fire had been forwarded to the government.
“The association does not have money, hence cannot render financial assistance to the traders.
Meanwhile, we will make space for the traders to sell their goods pending when they get alternative,’’ she said
NAN reports that some of the traders had constructed temporary hangers to display their goods and were seen doing petty trading.
At the Berlin market, the ongoing construction of aluminium kiosks for some of the traders by welders is ongoing, while some of the traders have also started skeletal trading activities.