Omos Oyinbode, Asaba
Properties and goods worth over N10 million were, at the weekend, reduced to ashes following an inferno that gutted a brothel in Asaba, the Delta State capital.
The fire which was said to have started at about 5am burnt the entire building with over ninety rooms, and over ten stores where provisions are sold.
But for the efforts of concerned neighbors who used the mixture of water and detergent to put out the raging fire, it would have spread to the adjoining buildings thereby causing more havoc.
Located behind the popular Abraka Market on the Benin-Onitsha expressway, a suburb of the state capital densely populated by migrants from the northern part of the country, the brothel, popularly called Ashawo market, is said to be a beehive of activities characterized by lack of decency and morality.
When our correspondent visited the scene, some of the women of easy virtue whose rooms were affected by the fire were counting their losses while others simply exhibited a level of nonchalance as they were puffing cigarette and Indian hemp.
Although the cause of fire was not known, a resident in the area who identified himself simply as Izuchukwu, blamed it on faulty electrical connection within the building.
Izuchukwu said the fire started at about 5am when Muslims were preparing for their early morning prayer.
“I came out in the morning when they were preparing for prayers and saw flames of fire going up and people started shouting for help,” he said.
According to him, the fire started from an electrical connection when electricity was restored by the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC).
“The fire was caused by electrical connection. Maybe the connection was faulty, and when electricity was restored, it sparked and the fire started,” Izuchukwu noted.
He explained that the brothel has over ninety rooms where prostitutes get patronage from men looking to cheaply satisfy their sexual urge, adding that about ten shops attached to the building were also affected.
Izuchukwu also blamed men of the fire service for not responding on time to the distressed call, noting that the inferno would have done more havoc before the fire service men arrived if not for the efforts of neighbors.
Meanwhile, another resident in the area who pleaded not to be mentioned in print has described the brothel as an illegal building which is causing obstruction on the right of way, calling on the state government to enforce its town planning rules.
“Just look at where the burnt building is, it has closed this road coming from the express. The building is illegal because it is blocking the right of way. Government should do well by removing this building from here by enforcing town planning rules,” he stated.