Tears and Wailing as Victims of Bauchi Varsity Inferno Count Loss
A devastating inferno recently visited the business center traders of the popular Abubakar Tafawa Balewa ATBU University, throwing the victims into confusion, pain and anguish.
Recall that tragedy struck Thursday morning when a fire razed no less than 42 closed stores at the university’s student business center. The affected stores were located on Block D, of the center comprising mainly computer operators, barbershops and grocery stores, grocery stores, a commercial printing house, an Internet cafe and a restaurant, among others.
It was gathered from multiple sources within the university that no fire department was available to help save the day.
The fire, believed to be the first of its kind in the university business community, reportedly started at 2 a.m. It would have been triggered by an electrical fault.
Unfortunately, as affected traders count their losses and ruin what happened to them, it was another story for the scavengers who were busy scooping up the metal left over from the fire to sell.
One of the traders affected, Ms Godwin, a widow with three children, said she did not know where to get her pieces of life. She called on the government and individuals to come to her aid. LEADERSHIP Weekend learned that the convenience store was built five years ago by the school administration. Supporters and victims, who described the incident as painful, have called on the government and well-meaning Nigerians to help them so that they can resume their activities. They said, “If the government and every good individual should come to their rescue because they need to start a new source of income.
Recounting his ordeal, Alfred Joseph, a computer operator whose shop was burned down beyond recognition, said:
“I am not currently in Bauchi, I traveled to Abuja and a friend called me this morning to inform me of the incident. He told me that everything in my shop had completely burned down.
“All my possessions including photocopiers, computers, laptops, printers, stationery, my generator and everything were destroyed. It’s so unfortunate,” he said.
Alfred, however, blamed the ASUU strike for their calamity. He said if the university had been in session and the students on campus, hell would have been avoided. He said after all he argued that it was difficult to restart a printing business after it took six years to get the business off the ground.
He said: “Losing a business that I spent my time building from scratch for over six years is actually very painful and heartbreaking.
LEADERSHIP found that some of the store owners are mostly breadwinners and students who graduated from the institution and then resorted to opening businesses after graduation. For these people, life without the business they depend on is meaningless.
Another victim, Audu Musa, who rushed to the center as early as 7:30 a.m., said he met the section in a total mess as they could not get their property back.
He said he was told the fire was caused by an electrical fault, “and I was also told that all efforts to call the fire department were unsuccessful; by the time i arrived later that morning i found all the shops had been burnt down.
Hosea, another store owner, added, “I run an IT business center and an IT solution. I lost everything ranging from computers, printers, furniture, generators, POS machines and many things.
Speaking further, he said that he “graduated in 2016 from the civil engineering department but since I had no work to do, I decided to start this business, although I will do it even when I was a student at the hotel, so when I graduated I grew the business so I could use it to support myself and the people around me.
Sources told LEADERSHIP Weekend that the facility’s fire engine could not cope with the situation as it was not in good working order. They ask the school authority to yell at the state government and explain that the extent of the damage was not something they could fix on their own.
Another victim who revealed that his blood pressure is currently high said: “I have just stocked goods worth about 4 million naira in my shop. They called us around 3:12am to say the market was on fire and before I arrived everything had been burnt down. . The money I used to buy the goods was borrowed and I don’t know where I will start again,” he lamented.
One of the victims said: ‘We also contacted the Federal Fire Service but they said their truck tires were in poor condition.
In fact, all of the victims interviewed said they had lost millions of naira, with some in the hundreds having replenished their stock in anticipation of the ASUU strike ending before the fire happened.
Bauchi Fire Department spokesman Muhammad Tijjani Bature and confirmed the fire incident to LEADERSHIP Weekend..
Tijjani estimated the value of the property and structure destroyed by the hell at 40 million naira
All efforts to speak with the school administration proved futile.
A source in the office of the rector of the university told our correspondent that a commission has been set up to find out the remote and immediate cause of the incident.