NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 3 – Property worth hundreds of thousands of shillings has been destroyed at Harambee Market in Kangemi after a fire broke out in the wee hours of the morning.
According to William Mugo, a security guard manning the market when the incident occurred at around 2.30 in the morning, the fire is said to have started from a tea kiosk in the market, spreading to other parts of the market before fire engines arrived.
“We were at the gate when a lorry had brought bananas then all of a sudden we heard there was fire,” said Mugo. “We tried all we could to quench the fire but we were overwhelmed.”
Although the cause of the fire is still unknown, traders have exchanged blame over what triggered the inferno with traders within the market accusing their counterparts who display their wares outside the facility, as having hatched a plot to bring down the market; claims they denied.
“Those guys out there because they are alongside the road and the road is being built, we suspect that they could have done this because they told us they too must continue with business as we do our own,” said Isaac Mbugwa, a trader in the market.
In a quick rejoinder, the traders who display the wares outside the main market argued that they were equally astonished at the speed with which the fire spread saying proper investigations need to be carried out to unearth the mystery behind the fire incident.
“We are very confused ourselves,” said Patrick Mwaniki, a trader outside the market. “How can fire erupt from one place and spread as first as it did? Investigations have to be done.”
According to Mbugwa who says he has been a trader in Kangemi market since 1988, the market which has a total capacity of 665 stalls witnessed similar incidents in the years 1998 and 2000. Mbugwa said he had suffered a great loss given he owned four stalls; none of which survived the fire.
The traders now say that they will have no option but to build up the market from scratch since it is a privately owned market.
The location of the market adjacent to a fuel station with no buffer zone separating the two has however raised eyebrows on the safety of both traders and motorists refueling the cars at the station.
The supervisor at the fuel station Paul Bundi told Capital News that the fire posed great danger to the business.
“The fire was very close to our station so we had to use the fire extinguishers that we have here to contain the fire,” said Bundi. “We only managed to put out the fire at around six o’clock in the morning when the fire brigade came in.”
There were no causalities reported during the incident.