• Fri. Jun 9th, 2023

Merchants Blame Deadly Kisenyi Fire on Land Grabbers

UGANDA, Kisenyi | Real Muloodi News | A fire broke out on in the Kiganda Zone, Kisenyi II Parish, in Kampala Central Division, destroying stalls and stores owned by traders in the area.

The Kisenyi fire occurred in the early hours of Monday, February 13, 2023. Several affected traders arrived at the scene but were unable to save any of their merchandise, which had already been burned to ashes by 7am.

According to Mr Isa Mugume, a witness and trader, the fire broke out around 4 a.m., and despite calls for help to the police at 5 a.m., they only arrived at 7 a.m. This location was less than a kilometre away from the Police Fire Brigade head offices.

The Police Fire Brigade struggled to put out the fire, which had gutted maize mills, poultry feed stores, and maize stores, among other businesses, due to a lack of water.

The cause of the Kisenyi fire was not immediately known, but several traders speculated that the fire was started by individuals interested in grabbing the land on which the traders operate.

Mr Mugume and other traders claimed that they had received warnings from unscrupulous individuals, telling them to vacate the land.

Traders such as Nakandi, who lost several bags of maize flour, have lost merchandise due to fire three times in the past year.

She said, “Our merchandise has been burnt three times. The first time, fire gutted our stores in February 2022, the second one was in August last year, and now this is the third one.”

Many traders rely on loans to run their businesses, and such frequent fires endanger their ability to pay back loans and care for their families.

The traders called upon the government to investigate the motive behind the frequent fires that have destroyed their merchandise in the area over the last year.

Ramathan Manduwa, the chairperson of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party for Kiganda Zone, Kisenyi II Parish, agreed that arsonists could be sponsored by those interested in the land.

He added, “We have been witnessing fire outbreaks in this very place every six months. Those interested in this land should be open instead of hiding behind fires.”

Bishop David Livingstone, a pastor at Christianity Focus Church, which is adjacent to the burnt stores, said that many questions must be answered regarding the cause of the fire, adding that such incidents may force the affected traders to resort to committing crimes to make ends meet.

Mr Salim Uhuru, the Kampala Central Division mayor, urged the police to get to the root cause of the fire.

He said, “It’s not the first fire, not the second fire, not the third and not the fourth. It’s becoming too much. We shall get the reports from the police, but if there are any evil people behind this act of burning people, they should stop it.”

The operations officer at the Police Fire Brigade, Mr Godfrey Okobo, said they did what they could to put out the fire.

The makeshift structures, made of materials such as iron sheets and wood, made the fire spread easily and also difficult to put out.

While the cause of the fire had not been established, reports about previous fires in the same area pointed to electrical short circuits.

Sergeant Elly Walusimbi, the community liaison officer at Fire Brigade headquarters, said, “We are trying our best to know what caused this fire.”


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