Fire guts 120 Kamwala stalls

A MAN salvages goods from a store at Luburma Market, where some shops caught fire on Sunday. PICTURE: MACKSON WASAMUNU

AN  OVERNIGHT inferno has swept through 120 shops at Kamwala trading area in Lusaka, destroying goods worth millions of Kwacha.
The fire, whose cause the local authority is yet to establish, swept through the shops and left some in a shell as owners watched helplessly.
The fire started in one of the shops around 18:00 hours on Sunday and soon raged, affecting all the 120 shops and was only doused by mid-morning yesterday.
Owners of the shops were seen sifting the debris and getting whatever had remained of their various items ranging from furniture to clothes.
As the traders watched in tears, the fire brigade worked tirelessly to put out the stubborn inferno amidst some scavengers exploiting the situation.
They made away with shoes, belts, bags and other items that survived the fire, literally competing with owners.
By noon yesterday, some smouldering items were still visible. Investigations into the cause of the fire have been instituted, according to Lusaka Province commissioner of police Nelson Phiri.
Minister in the Office of the Vice-President Sylvia Chalikosa directed investigative wings to ensure they conduct a thorough forensic investigation to establish the cause.
She said Government will come up with a way to assist affected marketeers.
“This is a wake-up call for us Government to ensure we promote insurance in markets. In the long term, we need to also look at the security of these markets so that such occurrences are avoided. We don’t know what the cause of the fire is, hence the need to revamp market security to minimise such calamities,” she said.
Kabwata member of Parliament Given Lubinda, who also visited the scene with mayor Wilson Kalumba, commended the fire brigade for its quick response.
He called on traders to co-operate as the matter is being addressed.
“I have spoken to the market masters to be vigilant as we do not know the cause of the fire it could have been electrical or anything else,” he said.
And some traders claimed the fire started mysteriously.
Their representative, Fletcher Kalobwe, explained that the fire started around 18:00 hours on Sunday.
He said his committee tried to quench it but failed, until they called for the fire brigade.
“My appeal to President Lungu is that he comes to our aid. these marketeers have lost millions of goods in this inferno. If they are empowered, they will at least have a start-up capital to resume their businesses,” he said.
The last time Kamwala caught fire was in 2008, when 27 shops were burnt to ashes.
And KELVIN MBEWE reports that Government has instituted investigations into the fire that gutted a hostel, consuming over 400 new mattresses, among other property, at Chalimbana University in Chongwe.
Minister of Higher Education Nkandu Luo said this when she visited the university yesterday.
Although she suspects foul play, she said: “It is a very unfortunate incidence because our government is working very hard to put up infrastructure to support our learning institutions. It is very painful to experience such a loss. However, such an incident requires level-headedness in approaching it,” she said.

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