Traders lost property of unknown value on Friday morning after a fire gutted part of Gikomba market in Nairobi.
No casualties were reported in the incident, which occurred at 2am when traders had already left the market.
The fire engulfed section 42 in Majengo, causing extensive damage. Fanuel Juma, chairman of shoe traders in the affected area, reported losses running into millions of shillings.
"We won't know the exact amount the traders have lost until they count their losses. But I thank the Nairobi County Fire Service for their quick response in extinguishing the fire," he said.
Gikomba Market, the largest open-air market in the country, has suffered numerous fires, the most recent being in September 2023, but the worst was in December last year when traders lost over Sh2 million worth of goods. Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja had promised to build a fire station at the market to curb the recurring fires.
But he had complained that land grabbers were causing problems and preventing this would-be solution: "Gikomba is public land and we will build a wall around it. It belongs to the people of Nairobi. We will defend it from grabbers to the end," he said.
The fire comes just days after the announcement of the construction of the long-awaited Gikomba and Kangemi fire stations, after the missing funds from the Sh120 million budget allocated for the two projects were clarified.
County Disaster Management and Coordination Chief Officer, Mr Bramwel Simiyu, confirmed the development during a media briefing at the Town Hall on Wednesday, November 29.
Mr Simiyu was addressing the earlier controversy surrounding a letter written by his office to the county's counterpart for finance and planning, Ms Asha Abdi, reporting the alleged disappearance of Sh15,658,500 million.
Speaking on Thursday 30 November, Simiyu said: "I am happy to report that the issue has been resolved. In fact, the funds that had been reallocated from the budget have been reversed and we now have access to the full budget to undertake this task".
With the recovered funds, the department has started the procurement process for the construction of the two fire stations, with the aim of completing them within the current financial year.