|Fire guts Kisekka Market|
|Monday, 30th August, 2010|| |
TRADERS of Kisekka Market in downtown Kampala were on Monday morning awakened to the news about a fire that gutted over 500 stalls and destroyed merchandise worth billions.
The fire, which is suspected to have been caused by an electric short circuit, started at about 6:00am.
It brought down the entire Block U in the middle of the highly-populated market where electrical appliances and motor vehicle spare parts are sold.
The fire also spread to several shops in the neighbouring block. The Police fire brigade together with Fire Masters, a private fire company, and the traders battled with the flames for over two hours.
The market is known to supply vehicle spare parts and old electrical appliances to Rwanda, Southern Sudan and Tanzania.
The Police said they were able to stop the fire from spreading to other blocks apart from a few neighbouring shops that were partly burnt.
Some traders collapsed upon reaching the scene and seeing flames consuming their merchandise. They were rushed to hospital by sympathisers and Red Cross workers.
The Kampala Metropolitan Police commander, Andrew Sorowen, was joined in the operation by Police commanders from the Central Police Station, Wandegeya, Jinja Road and Old Kampala.
The officer in charge of national operations, Grace Turyagumanawe, and the RPC Kampala South, Moses Kafeero, also joined the operation.
Sorowen said the Police was tipped off at about 7:00am when traders saw smoke emerging from the middle of the market.
He said the fire fighters failed to access the source of the fire due to congestion and blocked corridors.
Explosions from fridges and other heavy metallic equipment occasionally went off, causing the Police to fear that loose electric wires would cause more havoc.
“We are happy that nobody died and we stopped the fire from spreading,” Sorowen said.
Traders used basins and other containers to scoop water from the Nakivubo Channel to boost efforts to stop the fire.
There was drama, however, when some traders grabbed water pumps from fire fighters in a bid to focus on their stalls that were burning down. A few people sustained injuries in the process.
Hawa Nankinga said she could not save anything from her shop, while Resty Naiga, was carried away by Red Cross staff after she fainted in front of her shop.
Isaac Ssebaggala from Kawaala sustained injuries as he battled the fire. He managed to save some of his goods.
“I found the market engulfed in smoke and flames, but we were able to save some items,” he said.
Nakalema from Kasubi, who also deals in car spare parts, blamed the Police for cordoning off the scene, saying she could have tried to save her goods.
Other traders said they had lost money and goods in the fire. “I got a loan and was saving to pay it back, now everything is gone,” a trader said amidst sobs.
Many traders, however, congratulated the Police and Fire Masters for stopping the fire. They, however, battled with thieves who took advantage of the situation to steal.
Most shops remained closed yesterday as the traders asked the Police to investigate the cause of the fire.
Kampala City Council (KCC) recently handed over the land title for the market to the sitting vendors following advice from President Yoweri Museveni.
The move ended a leadership wrangle and demonstrations that threatened security in the city and occasionally brought business to a halt.
The vendors were protesting KCC’s decision to grant a 49-year lease to Rhino Investments as a private developer.
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