Thrice gutted, no lessons learnt! Mzuzu City Council (MCC) has come under fire from vendors for failing to put out a fierce fire that gutted the city’s main market on Wednesday night.
This is the third time fire has razed Mzuzu Central Market since it consumed goods worth K110 million ($200,000) in April last year and it comes two weeks after the neighbouring Vigwagwa Market went up in smoke.
Firefighters arrived at the scene of the latest incident nearly an hour later and seemed clueless as they struggled to extinguish flames that leapt from stalls made of residual timber to nearby two-storey buildings.
The rescue team, armed with two fire engines, might have earned praise from
“It’s a funeral, one of the worst fires in the market’s history. The firefighters did not do enough to put out the fire and affected vendors saved almost nothing,” said Franklin Hara, one of the affected vendors.
Hara perfectly mirrored the frustration of the traders who hurled objects at the fire engines as they sped past burning buildings to replenish water at the government offices almost a kilometre away.
The long waits for the fire engines confirm the absence of emergency water points in the market which also went up in flames in July 2014, destroying goods worth almost K400 million ($727,272).
Mzuzu City deputy mayor Graze Chunga recommended drastic reforms to ensure not only rapid response but also efficiency when it comes to tackling emergency.
Among the proposed reforms is the need to install hydrants in the fire-prone market and to create pathways for fire engines to get closer to shops when tragedy strikes.
The council said yesterday it is still assessing the cause and extent of the damage. n