December 5, 2013 (KAMPALA) - A Kampala market was on Wednesday morning consumed by an early morning fire destroying property worth millions of shillings and leaving about 20,000 traders displaced.
- Kampala residents at the fire scene December 2, 2013 (Daily Monitor photo)
Many traders collapsed on seeing their goods reduced to ash and were rushed to Mulago hospital in the city by the Uganda Red Cross.
It is the third time in three years that the Park Yard market located in down-town Kampala is being razed by a fire since 2009.
The cause of 4:am fire, like the ones before, remains unknown. Findings of police investigations on the cause of previous fires have never been made public .
‘‘ Some traders think it is the work of people who don’t want them there while others think it’s the work of thieves who try to destroy evidence whenever they steal from the market’’, said Isa Sekito, spokesman of the Kampala traders association in an interview with Sudan Tribune on Thursday.
The Park Yard market on any given day is a beehive of activity with sellers of second hand clothes and other merchandise going about their business amidst unprofessionally connected, loosely hanging electricity wires crisscrossing about.
"Some people think the fires are caused by accidents because of the vulnerability of the place to fires. But all these possible causes of the fire remain speculation’’, said Sekito.
Sekito says it is difficult to quantify losses incurred by the traders because of the informal nature of the business they are involved in.
The government has announced it will donate I billion shillings about USD 400,000 to traders who lost merchandise.
Security personnel were deployed at the market to prevent looters from taking advantage of the confusion.
There were running battles on Wednesday morning between the police and crowds on the streets.
The fire comes at a time of heightened tension between supporters of the embattled Kampala Mayor Erias Lukwago and the government.
Lukwago was last week voted out of office by Kampala city council but a court struck down his impeachment.
Since then his supporters have been having running battles with the police with the Mayor spending most of this week at his home –blocked by police from leaving- for fear of clashes between his supporters and security forces.