The Imperative For Insurance Cover Against Fire Disaster

Fire outbreak has remained a major disaster not only in Nigeria but the world over. In the recent past so many lives and properties worth billions of Naira were lost to uncontrolled fires in the zone and the country at large.

 In addition to loss of lives and properties there are incalculable indirect fiscal looses due to unemployment, reduced property values and lost business incomes. There is no pattern for when a fire may occur. However experience has shown that in this part of the country the incidence and intensity of damage and looses is more during the harmattan season, Period between November and March of every year. Experience has also shown that the inferno could occur at home, schools, markets, factories, farms and the like. The season had already commenced and so far parts of Abubakar Gumi Central market Kaduna, Singer and Abubakar Rimi Central Markets Kano had been engulfed by fire inferno.
The best fire fighting technique is prevention and the best strategy for recovery is insurance cover. To prevent fire out breaks we need to generate sufficient awareness towards building a culture of safety consciousness among the authorities and the communities.
To be able to recover from fire disasters in the markets, so that traders can get back to business as soon as a calamity struck we need to have our markets and properties in the markets insured. While it is the responsibility of the market authorities to insure the markets it is the responsibility of the traders to insure their wares and properties. Through this market authorities will receive claims to restore the market structure in earnest while the traders will use their claims to bounce back to business. This is the best recovery strategy from market fire disasters all over the world.
It is rather ironic that today through out the North West Zone only Abubakar Gumi Central Market Kaduna and Sokoto Central Market Sokoto have insurance cover. It is disturbing that even in the two markets insured traders did not insure their wares and properties. Thus when the market authorities make claims in case of fire disaster the claim is only limited to the market and it does not cover the wares and properties of the traders. While the market can be repaired quickly the traders suffer untold hardship and most of them could never return to business.
It is against this background that we call on market authorities and traders in the zone to insure their markets and businesses respectively. It is for these reasons that the North West Zonal office of the National Emergency Management Agency undertook a sensitization campaign for insurance against market fire disasters at the premises of Abubakar Gumi Market Development Authority on Thursday 22nd October 2008. A part of the market was torched on Saturday 25th October 2008.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), State Emergency Management Agencies (SEMAs) and the Local Government Emergency Committees (LGEMCs) are not compensating agencies. They provide relief assistance but do not offer compensation to victims of market fire disaster. The assistance usually comes in form of food to relieve the traders who lost their means of survival, this can not resuscitate livelihood. What can resuscitate livelihood is insurance cover.
We collectively have a duty to protect lives, properties and livelihood of the people and to do that in this regard we should be dedicated towards measures and procedures for stopping the outbreak of fire, early detection and prompt response to save lives and minimize looses. We should also work toward getting our markets and properties of traders in the markets insured.

Alhassan Nuhu
Zonal Coordinator
National Emergency Management Agency NEMA

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