The government is banking on CCTV cameras it plans to install in the “near future” at Gikomba market to solve the puzzle of constant fires that leave many people counting losses.
Speaking yesterday after assessing the aftermath of the Friday morning fire that left 37 residents and several businessmen counting losses, the Interior PS Karanja Kibicho said the government is coming up with a permanent solution.
Flanked by Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) director-general Mohammed Badi, and Kamukunji MP Yusuf Hassan, Dr Kibicho said there is a plan to relocate traders from the open air market to permanent structures to stop the fires.
“Relocating the traders to a permanent market with electricity, adequate water, and proper aeration, will pave way for upgrade of the existing open air space,” the PS said, adding it wasn’t easy for the fire engines to access Ghorofani, where the fire was.
He appealed to traders to agree to vacate, and give room for construction of access roads in Gikomba.
The PS also said that the government “will be able to ascertain whether the fires occur by accident or are acts of arson” in future by reviewing footage from cameras that are being installed at the market.
This, he said, will complement other security and safety measures such as the construction of a perimeter wall and the mounting of floodlights.
Witnesses said the fire that threatened the entire neighbourhood began around 1am and continued through to sunrise. While the residents blamed the NMS and National Disaster Management for late action, area leadership hailed the institutions for swift response.
“There could have been total devastation had the teams not swung swiftly into action,” Mr Hassan said.
Tired of counting losses resulting from the infernos, the traders threatened to sue the county government over negligence.
Through lawyer Kamotho Njenga, they wrote a demand letter to acting governor Anne Kananu making a raft of demands, which they want fulfilled failure to which they will seek court redress.
They are demanding that the county government admits liability for the incessant fires at the market and compensate them for the losses.
"We demand immediate deployment of proficient firefighting personnel on a round the clock basis within the market and installation of street lights across the entire market. We also want clearance and reservation of market entry and exit routes to ensure unfettered emergency access," reads the letter.
Should the acting governor fail to respond in seven days, the traders have instructed the lawyer to institute legal proceedings against the county government to compel it to address their concerns.