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February 19, 2019

Set up public inquiry into Gikomba fires

The fire in Gikomba as pictured on June 28, 2018. /COURTESY
The fire in Gikomba as pictured on June 28, 2018. /COURTESY

For the seventh time in as many years, a mysterious fire gutted part of Gikomba market in Nairobi’s Eastlands on Wednesday night.

The market is the popular destination of thousands of upcountry and city shoppers searching for affordable commodities that fetch much higher prices in the city centre and upmarket suburbs.

Indeed, Gikomba is Kenya’s inland port for commonly used second-hand clothes and appliances, and a source of livelihood for millions of Kenyans. On an ordinary day, many upcountry traders troop there to collect wares for retail back home.

Wednesday morning’s fire had the most debilitating consequences on the market’s vibrant life, leaving an estimated 15 people dead. Its cause remains unknown but preliminary evidence points to a premeditated plan by unscrupulous individuals to evict the traders and take over the land (Pg4).

The perpetrators of this malevolent scheme must be arrested and charged with the murder of the innocent victims and destruction of property.

The sprawling market and outlying jua kali shades sit on public land held in trust by the county government. But that has not deterred greedy land sharks and other covetous speculators from hatching schemes to hive off pieces for private development.

To secure the land from these grabbers and other schemes, the government must set up an inquiry into the fires and establish the ownership of the land once and for all.


Quote of the Day: “For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst and provide for it.”


Patrick Henry

He was made first post-independence governor of the state of Virginia on June 29, 1776.

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