NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 15 – A massive fire at the Gikomba market has destroyed property worth millions of shillings and reduced several stalls to ashes.
It was not clear what sparked the blaze that destroyed a variety of goods that had been stored in the market’s stalls by the several traders who eke out a living from there.
During an interview with Capital News, traders recounted their plight:” We have done a lot of work here and it has all been destroyed by the fire,” complained David Mwaniki, a trader at the market.
“I had some machines here and all of them have been destroyed by the fire. I have lost property worth millions,” said George Omondi, a carpenter.
“I heard something blow up during the night. I don’t know if it was a transformer or a wire,” Elias Kinoti, who stays next to the market recounted.
Witnesses believe the blaze began in the stalls that stood near the Gikomba brigde, bringing down electric poles that fuelled the flames.
The City Council Fire Brigade was quick to respond but had to request the help of the Kenya Army to contain the raging fire, which was finally put out at about midday.
The Nairobi Central Divisional Deputy Police chief Richard Muguai said no casualties were reported.
The Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) however said that the fire destroyed some of their poles and resulted in a power blackout in several areas of the city.
“The fire consumed two electricity poles on a high voltage line interrupting power supply to sections of the Nairobi city Centre,” read a KPLC statement.
“It interrupted bulk power supply to the KPLC substation next to the main Kenya Bus and matatu terminus which feeds various parts of the Central Business District.”
“It started just after midnight. Something blew up and the fire started,” claimed James Juma, a juakali artisan. He said the flames were encouraged by a heavy wind.
The traders said the government should consider offering them financial support to help them get back to their feet.
“You know at this point all we need now is financial support. I don’t see any other way,” relayed Sarah Wanjiru, at the same time lauding the Fire Brigade’s efforts.
“These fire fighters have helped a lot and I congratulate them because this was an unfortunate incident.”
The market houses more than 200 shops, which include clothe shops, hardware stores, workshops, and furniture stores as well. At least 50,000 people drew their source of income from these shops.