Fire razes part of Gikomba market in Nairobi, again

Wednesday April 10 2019

Flames raze stalls at Line 42 section of Gikomba market on April 10, 2019. PHOTO | COURTESY


A section of Gikomba market in Nairobi was, once again, razed by fire on Wednesday morning.

Witnesses told the Nation that the flames broke out at around 4am at Line 42, near the bridge.


The inferno razed stalls with shoes and apparel, with tens of traders waking up to the sting of huge losses.

By 6am, several emergency teams including firefighters from the Nairobi City County, were battling to put out the flames.

The managed to contain the situation by 8.30am.


Some traders at the market accused firefighters, who arrived in good time to save the situation, of laxity.

“The fire engines arrived here in time but took long before starting to put out the fire. The delays showed that they were amateurs. If they were swift, we could have salvaged some of our properties,” said Mr Abdulaziz Kioko, a trader.

Another trader, Ms Anne Wangari, said the recurring fire incidents had caused them huge losses.


Firefighters battle fire at Gikomba market around Majengo area on April 10, 2019. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

“Our property burnt down in February this year, we lost everything. Last year in November we lost everything. Some of us went to banks to take loans to start our businesses afresh and now everything has been reduced to ashes. What kind of Kenya is this?” asked Ms Wangari.

According to Nairobi regional commander Philip Ndolo, there were no casualties reported in the incident that has left dozens of traders devastated.


“It is not known what caused the fire but investigations are underway to establish the cause,” said Mr Ndolo.

The fire comes barely two months after traders lost property of unknown value after night flames gutted several stall on February 7.

Gikomba market, the biggest open-air market in the country, has suffered numerous fires recently that even caught the attention of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

On October 6, 2017, Mr Kenyatta ordered police to investigate the cause of a fire that destroyed property worth millions at the market on that day.

"The incident has displaced many traders from all over the country and investigations should be launched to find the culprits and action be taken against them," he said then.

None of his directives to forestall future fires has ever been implemented.

The biggest recent fire was in June 2018 that claimed 15 lives and razed property worth millions at the Kwa Mbao section.


What remained of Gikomba market around Majengo area after the April 10, 2019 inferno. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko promised to form a multi-agency team to investigate the cause of the fire.

Nothing has ever been heard of it.


Five months later in November when a larger section of the market was destroyed in another fire incident, authorities blamed it on arsonists.

Area MP Hassan Yusuf accused the government of dragging its feet in investigating the cause of frequent fire outbreaks at the market.

Mr Yusuf on Wednesday said police had failed to give their investigation report into the causes of fires that rocked the market in the past.

For instance, the MP said police have not made public the report on the June 2018 fire outbreak that claimed 15 lives and injured more than 60 other people.

“On March 2019, I asked a question on the frequent fires in Gikomba market on the floor of Parliament. It’s absolutely important and urgent to thoroughly investigate and get to the bottom this problem,”  Mr Yusuf told the Nation.

The MP, however thanked firefighter for their swift action to contain the fire.

“Many thanks and congratulations to the firefighters for their swift action and bringing the fire under control,” said Mr Yusuf.