, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 3 – It has since rained in Gikomba after the fire tragedy that claimed 17 lives and left property worth millions of shillings destroyed.
Other than the charred buildings and dark silt on the ground, nothing can betray the pain of a ‘wounded’ market a week ago.
From one corner, Tuesday afternoon, one could see a group of traders exchanging views, others were trying to salvage remains after the deadly inferno – it is a busy day for them.
For what they say, it is a desire to ensure their families don’t go to sleep hungry, and the traders have defied orders by the National Environment Management Authority to vacate the place, which is on the Nairobi River riparian land and have already started rebuilding the market.
But they are worried.
Authorities have pitched camp at the expansive stretch of Nairobi’s City main market, a livelihood for thousands of Kenyans, and have been categorical that the section of the market will not be rebuilt.
Those who spoke to Capital FM News say they are not sure whether the new stalls will be demolished, as warned by NEMA.
“They say the section of the market, which has lasted for long is on Nairobi’s River riparian land,” Mark Wangai, a trader told Capital FM News.
“This is mocking us. We have lost our loved ones and attempts to shake off the dust has been stopped. We have families too.”
Nevertheless, they have vowed to move on with life, but first, the traders say they must rebuild the market.
“We don’t want their money. Let them ‘eat’ as it is the norm,” a trader shouted while referring to support the government has promised.
Sentiments shared by Fred Ngatia, who has urged the County Government, ‘to allow us to move on with life. After all, we pay a lot of tax to the county.”
Even for James Ombati who lost property worth Sh2 million, he is ready to move on if the authorities assure them that they will not demolish the market.
Owners of the affected apartments have also started renovating them.
In one of the six-storey building, nine people suffocated to death; the rest died while undergoing treatment in various health facilities within the city.
On Tuesday, families gave their DNA samples for the identification process, which will take one month.
Nine bodies were not physically identifiable.
Nairobi Business Community chairperson Winfred Kamau has urged Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti to expedite the probe on Gikomba’s fire tragedy and ensure those found culpable are brought to book.
“We demand that the National Government fully investigates the circumstances under which the arson took place,” he said.
According to Kamau, “some people are claiming ownership of the Gikomba land.”
“Who are they?” he asked.
“The County Government has stopped the traders from rebuilding the stalls. On whose behalf are they stopping them?”