The Police have attributed the Monday morning fire outbreak at Elegu Market in Amuru District to the reckless acts by some of the traders.
According to police investigations, the fire started from stalls where fish had been left for smoking on charcoal stoves before spreading to other structures. Investigators established that despite the congested space at the market, some traders leave fish on charcoal stoves for smoking in their absence.
“The cause of the fire has been attributed to reckless acts by some market vendors who leave charcoal stoves at the fish smoking stalls unattended to within the congested market premises,” Aswa River Region Police Spokesperson, David Ongom Mudong, says.
Mudong says further findings indicate that the majority of the structures at the market were constructed using materials such as bamboo poles, papyrus mats, tarpaulin, and iron sheets that easily catch fire. He notes that a total of 1,000 structures comprising 700 market stalls and 300 temporary structures were razed down in the Monday morning inferno.
Amuru Resident District Commissioner Geoffrey Osborn Oceng told Uganda Radio Network in an interview on Monday that they have stopped all traders from further erecting temporary structures at the market site. He added that the district has allocated a market space for traders where they will be expected to put up semi-permanent and permanent structures for businesses to curb the risks of future fire incidences.
“It’s no longer safe for the traders to erect structures again in this market, we want them to occupy the new allocated site which is safe and spacious, and in any case of fire, there are possibilities of saving properties,” He said.
Amuru District Chairperson Michael Lakony says the majority of the structures razed down in the fire had been erected by defiant traders who didn’t want to follow the regulated housing plans for Elegu Town Council.
He reiterates that the Police have been notified to stop any further erection of structures at the burnt market site and the nearby community which is too congested and prone to another fire incident. Lakony says they intend to loosen up the congestion in the area and allocate a different space for the occupants to avoid the creation of a slum prone to disasters like fire.
It’s estimated that more than 500 traders were affected while goods worth millions of Shillings were destroyed in yesterday’s fire incident. This is the third time in a period of only two years that Elegu Market has been gutted by fire. leaving hundreds of businessmen and women in losses.