All it took was a spark and another market in the heart of Kampala went up in flames. Traders in Kisekka market reported to their stalls only to find their merchandise worth billions of shillings burnt to ashes by an early morning fire that blazed through it.
Towards the end of February last year, St. Balikuddembe market commonly known as Owino was also gutted by a fire which left many livelihoods in disarray.
Similar to Owino market, the police fire brigade could not put out the fires that burnt the markets because of inaccessibility. The markets are, to be precise, too crowded and completely planned. They have grown organically, without the proper planning from the authorities. This has left them without proper passages where emergency services like fire fighters can access the area in case there is need to quell a disaster.
The fires that have gutted city markets are so far being blamed on short circuits. Although this cause has not been fully ascertained, the way power connections in the markets have been done leaves a lot to be desired.
One would think that traders downtown are a big part of the city and pay their taxes, therefore they deserve to work in an environment that is not only safe for them but for their customers and goods as well. After the fire in Kisekka, many people will agree that the time to upgrade these markets and build permanent and more decent structures is now.
Unfortunately, the traders have already started “rebuilding” the market with even worse materials so that they can begin work as soon as possible. The status quo here is going to either remain the same or even deteriorate due to the fact no clear policy is being followed to ensure that what happened does not happen again.
Just like it was the case in Owino market where bad construction was replaced with even worse construction, the same is being done in Kisekka market. All the traders should is to keep their fingers crossed such that no fires comes again