ROUTINE TRAGEDY

Call centre will help new Gikomba market end arson

Call centre backed up with real-time surveillance cameras will assist in apprehending arsonists.

In Summary

•Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani termed the frequent Gikomba fires an evolving act of terrorism.

• A borehole and 100,000-litre tank with running water to fight fires wii be built.

A woman at her sewing machine after a Gikomba fire.
LIFE IN TATTERS: A woman at her sewing machine after a Gikomba fire.
Image: WILFRED NYANGARESI

Tragedy is routine at Gikomba market.

But now the government is counting on surveillance cameras and a call centre for the a new Sh3 billion Gikomba market to end the rash of fires.

The date of the opening has not been disclosed but Phase I is complete and Phase II is under construction.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani termed the frequent Gikomba fires an evolving act of terrorism that poses a risk to the economy.

“Gikomba market has fire outbreaks that have constantly been linked to arson attacks as opposed to natural occurrences. Fire outbreaks constantly evolving in the market pose a threat to thousands of self-employed traders," he said.

He comments are contained in the  2022 Budget Policy statement.

Without revealing the cost of the call centre and surveillance system, the CS said they will help arrest arsonists.

He also said a borehole and 100,000-litre steel tank providing running water will help fight fires.

Gikomba Market is East Africa's biggest open-air market and has experienced a number of fires every year

For decades, the market has been a source of income for many including food vendors, second-hand clothes traders, carpenters, other fundis and many more traders.

However, for many years  traders have constantly been in tears, losing their investments and having to rebuild. Most lack insurance and many have had to move away. 

Mysterious fires in Gikomba market are a norm and no one has been arrested for the  the recurrent fires.

The Nairobi County Government and the National Government now is building a Sh3 billion, five-storey Gikomba market  in hopes of ending he 'routine' fires'.

Many traders have said the fires are a way of grabbing land, as most traders have no title deeds.

(Edited by V. Graham)