Businesses were paralysed on the ever-busy Ojekunle Street in the popular Ladipo Market area of Lagos State on Tuesday as over 1,000 shops were shut down as a result of the deadly gas explosion that rocked a mechanic workshop on number 35 and 37 of the long lane.
The PUNCH had earlier reported that at least five persons were burnt to death when the explosion rocked a mechanic premises around 8am on Tuesday.
About 60 buildings including two-storey and one-storey structures wholly housing shops were closed for business activities due to the incident. Each of the building housed at least 40 shops.
Our correspondent who was at the scene of the explosion counted over 1,000 shops shut down on the long stretch road.
A trade union official also confirmed to The PUNCH that the over 1,000 members of the association didn’t open for the day’s business because of the explosion.
Security operatives and emergency responders have cordoned off the area as rescue operations and on-the-spot assessment continue.
Hundreds of traders were seen in front of their shops discussing in twos and threes as first responders evacuate burnt bodies of victims.
A trader and member who identified himself as Chukwuemeka Stephen said the traders shut down in solidarity.
“Nobody is talking business today when five persons died. Those who died can’t talk about business. We are closed today,” he said.
Another trader, Ifeanyi Ikenna, said he arrived around 9am just after the explosion.
Ikenna, whose shop was beside the explosion site, gave thanks to God for the ‘miracle’.
He said, “My being alive is by God. Nobody is talking business. People died tragically. And it is so sad. We are closed for today and maybe tomorrow.”
The chairman of the Mechanic Arm of the market, Sowemimo Babatunde, declined comments when our correspondent approached him on Tuesday.
Our correspondent observed that Babatunde and some other officials of the market went in for an emergency meeting as of press time.
Lagos State Police Commissioner, Hakeem Odumosu, while addressing newsmen at the scene, said, “Once the place is okay for human activities, the whole place would be opened. I cannot say one hour, two hours, three hours; it is for the experts to do that.”
The Ladipo Market, popularly known for spare parts and other vehicle accessories, also accommodates mechanics and other automobile technicians, amongst others.
The market is one of the largest spare parts hubs in Nigeria.