Duale blames county govt for market fire

Traders at a market in Garissa after it was razed on June 23, 2022.

Photo credit: Manase Otsialo I Nation Media Group

Political leaders in Garissa County are now capitalising on the misery that befell more than 2,000 traders when the famous Soko Muqdi burnt down on Thursday morning to win support.

Speaking at his residence in Garissa town, Garissa Township MP Adan Duale blamed county government leaders for the fire.

Lack of disaster management preparedness by Governor Ali Korane’s administration, Mr Duale said, cost the traders their source of income.

He claimed the inferno was planned and urged security agencies to conduct thorough investigations and arrest and prosecute those who caused it.

Without giving names, Mr Duale said known individuals with a sharp appetite for land are behind the fire at Soko Muqdi.

“The fire incident at the market was well planned by individuals in this town who have always wanted to grab this land. That was not a coincidence,” Mr Duale said.

Mr Duale, seeking to retain his parliamentary seat under the United Democratic Alliance, claimed he had reported the matter to Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti.

“I have just spoken to [Mr Kinoti], and the security agencies here in Garissa must bring to book the perpetrators of this fire incident, which was well planned,” he said.

He claimed individuals behind the fires are seeking to privatise the only market in Garissa town.

He said he will reach out to his friends in Somaliland and across the country to raise funds to rebuild the market.

On Thursday, Garissa town police boss James Ngetich said watchmen and Kenya Power officials were helping to establish what transpired.

While Mr Duale blamed the county for the blaze, Governor Korane warned local leaders against capitalising on it for political mileage.

Addressing the Soko Muqdi Market Committee, Mr Korane said it was unfortunate that some people were seeking to gain politically from the crisis.

He promised to find a lasting solution to the problem of frequent fires at the market.

Mr Korane also pledged support for the affected traders.

"Some leaders had the opportunity to serve during their time and make the market situation better but now they are giving wild tales to the grieving victims,'' he said.

On Thursday, Mr Nathif Jama, the first county governor, accused his successor of failing to respond to the needs of traders at the market.

Mr Jama said he was shocked that six fire engines he acquired when he was in office were grounded and could not help save lives or property when fires broke out.

The market hosted 5,000 traders dealing in clothes, foodstuff, electronics and wholesale goods.


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