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Investigations into Owino fire underwayPublish Date: Dec 07, 2013
Investigations into Owino fire underway
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Fire fighters battled the fire that left goods worth millions of shillings burnt to the ground. PHOTO/Richard Sanya
newvision

By Andrew Ssenyonga

KAMPALA - Police in Kampala say they have started investigations into the cause of the mid-week fire that gutted Park-yard market in downtown Kampala.

The Wednesday morning fire that ate up merchandise worth millions of shillings was the fourth in as many years at the decades-old market.

Park-yard is an extension of St. Balikuddembe market, formerly called Owino.

Kampala metropolitan police spokesperson Ibin Ssenkumbi said Friday that the Inspector General of Police instituted a team which is carrying out the investigations.

“The IGP ordered the team to quickly carry out and produce investigations about what caused the fire at the park yard,” he said.

A report is expected to be produced in two weeks.


Owino has long been known as the hub for second-hand goods. Millions were lost in the Wednesday fire. PHOTO/Richard Sanya

The commissioned team is expected to finalize their investigations in time so that the cause of the fire is established to help avoid other similarly potential fire accidents.

No arrests have been made yet, but Ssenkumbi revealed that Police will swing into action if any names are pointed out in the expected report.

He went on to call for calm among the traders as investigations take shape and also urged anyone with key leads to report to police.

'Very unfair'

As has been with the previous fires at the market, this year’s inferno has been clouded with suspicions and has evoked a stark sense of bitterness among the affected traders.

One trader, who lost all that he had, said he does not know where to go.

“It is unfair. Very unfair.  Whoever did this has ruined my life, my family, my hopes,” he lamented.


WHAT NEXT?: A trader stands at the point where his stall stood before the fire. He lost everything. PHOTO/Richard Sanya

He tried to comb through what was left of his flattened stall, but all his fingers would lift were heaps of ashes.

“God knows what next,” he said.

Government has given the traders sh1bn as compensation and asked the vendors to form a committee that will work with government to access the funds.

Some traders have since gotten back to business.  The collective wish among the vendors is that government constructs a solid structure in place of the wooden stalls that cover a large section of the congested market.

Over 500,000 vendors ply their trade inside St. Balikuddembe market.


PICKING UP THE PIECES: Some traders have gotten back to business following the mid-week incident. PHOTO/Richard Sanya

Looking back at the fire, some people have been pointing blame fingers elsewhere.

Two months ago, unknown people circulated flyers threatening to burn the market, a matter that was allegedly reported to Owino Police Station.

Nakivubo stadium management claimed to have reported the matter to Owino Police Station which they claim police never took seriously.

“Police has never received any such reports and those allegations are uncalled for,” Ssenkumbi insisted.

He pressed that if there was any such case at any police station, the management should avail them with the case number and the name of the police station.

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