A fire breaks out at Gikomba Market in Nairobi. PHOTO/COURTESY
BY SIMIYU SIMIYU
As National Super Alliance (NASA) supporters were planning to regroup for their weekly anti-IEBC demos today, the country was awoken by shocking images of cruel smoke smearing the skies from Gikomba Market.
Media stations have reported that millions of property was destroyed by the morning inferno.
A lot of questions have now surrounded the endless Gikomba Market fire outbreaks in Nairobi.
In 2015, an estimated 10,000 traders lost goods worth millions of shillings after an early morning fire burnt hundreds sheds and a Family Bank branch. No substantial findings have so far been cited as cause of the fire.
Two years later, the city’s largest open-air market was damaged again by a mass fire that started by burning make-shift grocery stalls before spreading to the other ends as from 3am.
Traders at the scene told the Nation that unknown people torched a selection of stalls using petrol.
Jane Nzuki, a second-hand clothes dealer at the market said she lost stock worth Sh1 million. She accused people with ill motives “who are out to gain politically” for the blaze.
Another business owner, James Kilonzo, lashed out at politicians for being insensitive to small-scale traders like him in the market, the Business Daily reports.
This has prompted President Uhuru Kenyatta to order a thorough prob into the fire that has affected close to 40,000 traders across the country.
Small scale traders as far as from Kisii, Kisumu, West Pokot, Bungoma, Mombasa and Garissa depend on the market for the operation of their businesses, especially in the mutumba clothing sector.
A trader in Bungoma who only identified himself as Ndung’u, told this site that there could be someone sabotaging the operation of the market.
“If you look at the 2015 fire, the government gave Sh10,000 to each of the affected traders at the market and possibly, this didn’t go well with some cartels in the city who are known to broker for such deals,” he said.
“At the same time, issue of land has also been a hotcake in Nairobi. The government needs to look into it and establish if there’s any conflict of interest that the country doesn’t know.” Said the businessman who ships in his stock from Gikomba on a weekly basis.
Even as Ndung’u channels his suspicion, the government has read arson in the fire and promised thorough prob into the saga.
“From the initial reports that we are getting, we are saddened that they appear to point at foul play. The government has set in motion investigations into the cause of this fire to fully establish what caused it,” Devolution Cabinet Secreyary Mwangi Kiunjuri told the press.
Another source from Nairobi told this writer that it could be something to do with insurance.
“We are living in a world where anything is possible. Some of these traders have insured their business and you don’t know whether the fire was scripted for some people to benefit in the process,” said the woman who asked for anonymity.
As Kenyans Kenyans wait for the official investigation into the matter, focus is now on how the affected traders whose daily bread depends on their sales will survive.
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