- Over 500 shops burnt
- 1000s of jobs lost
Affected traders of the fire outbreak that hit a portion of the Kantamanto Market at the central business district of Accra are appealing to government for financial support to get back on their feet, as over 500 shops have been razed.
The disaster, which this paper estimates may have cost thousands of jobs, started late Tuesday night into the early hours of Wednesday. A visit to the premises by B&FT showed that the fire consumed a portion of the market close in size to half a football pitch.
The shops include barbering, tailoring, restaurants (chop bars), CD merchandise and second-hand clothing enterprises, among others.
A tailor whose shop was affected, Ali Mahamudu, told the paper that many of his colleagues were able to get to the scene early, but were prevented from entering to salvage some of their goods as the security officers were afraid miscreants would take advantage. He added that with the current situation, they urgently need some financial help.
“Many of us here work hand to mouth because we don’t make any extravagant profit and business is not as fast as we would wish. So, just as the NBSSI and MASLOC did for the traders at the Odawna Market, we must also be supported,” he said.
Another victim, Akua Offei – a second-hand clothing trader, said that she had lost everything including a loan that she was given on Monday and was waiting till next week to use in stocking her shop: “I am so miserable; how can I pay this GHȼ5,000 loan I went for? I kept more than half of the money in the shop to pay my distributors, whom I was expecting next week,” she lamented.
A barbering shop owner, Maxwell Achampong who could not fathom how the fire started, also added his voice in calling for government support.
“What we can do is appeal to government for support, and that is why we are calling on government to let MASCLOC and NBSSI come to help us.”
Fire Service account
The Ghana Fire Service (GFS) told this paper that a distress call was put through to them at about 11:33pm Tuesday evening. A team was dispatched, but they had challenges before gaining access to the scene. According to the GFS, 8 fire-tenders were used to douse the inferno.
Head of Public Relations at the Ghana Fire Service, Ellis Robinson Okoe, told this paper that: “Investigations have started to ascertain the cause of the fire. It is not clear at the moment what caused it, we have to wait till investigations are done; but with large markets like this, you realise that there are a lot of illegal connections in the market. There is overcrowding as well. Most of the records we have show that this kind of fire is caused by illegal connections, because they do not use the right channels to get power”.
Most of the traders say they suspect the fire was caused by electrical negligence. Some of them are therefore pushing for all markets in the country to be connected to a separate transformer that would automatically switch off the power when the market is officially closed.