Inferno destroys over 500 shops at Kariakoo

DAR ES SALAAM : DEVASTATING fire broke out in the early hours of on Sunday morning razing down a three multi-storey building with indoor malls of some 500 shops at the bustling Kariakoo market in Dar es Salaam.

The raging fire also gutted down some 14 outdoor kiosks with their shelves completely turned to ashes.

Chief Executive Officer of Kariakoo Market, Mr Salehe Msoka made statement as efforts to put out the fire was ongoing at the Mkunguni Street near the well-known Big Bon fuel station.

Senior Fire and Rescue Officer for Kinondoni Region, Mr Elisa Mugisha, representing Ilala Region Firefighting Commander, stated that they got information about the fire outbreak at 7:08am.

“The firefighting team arrived at 7:09am, just a minute after receiving the call. However, prompt response from airport fire brigade was slightly delayed because there was an international flight that was landing and routine is that there had to be a firefighter vehicle standby for any eventuality when such a plane is taxing at the airport,” Mr Mugisha stated.

Describing their rescue efforts, he explained that their initial actions were to prevent the fire from spreading and causing more harm to properties and civilians.

“What we have done was to control the fire and reduce its intensity to prevent further damage to property and harm to people,” stated Commander Mugisha.

“We are thankful that no fatalities or injuries were reported among the firefighting personnel or civilians during the rescue operation.

One of the challenges faced during the rescue operation was the lack of friendly infrastructure in the area, which hindered our firefighting efforts to penetrate fast enough. The significant challenge we encountered was the crowded buildings, a situation which made it difficult for us to extinguish the fire prompt enough,” explained Commander Mugisha.

He also emphasised that the congestion of buildings is a common issue that often delays firefighting efforts in many fire emergencies across the country.

He noted that the fire had affected three multi-storey buildings primarily used for commercial purposes.

While the immediate extent of the damage was visible, a formal assessment by experts will determine the losses incurred.

The affected area is predominantly known for its scrap metal and secondhand goods businesses.

In quick response, Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner, Albert Chalamila issued a directive to business owners who have blocked pathways around buildings to open them to prevent fire disasters.

“Those who have obstructed alleyways in accordance with urban planning maps here in Kariakoo must clear the way ….we must be prepared for potential disasters, as fires can cause significant harm when there are no clear pathways for firefighters to access,” stated Chalamila.

“Now, those who have blocked these alleyways should start unblocking them manually, following the urban planning maps. This will enable us to have clear pathways for timely response in case of any emergencies, including fires,” he added.

He further emphasised, “We’ve noticed that alleyways have been obstructed, and we’ve previously stated that these alleyways should be opened to ensure that rescuers, including firefighters easily access them in times of need. Here, we’ve seen passages blocked with makeshift wooden materials that have accelerated the rapid spread of fires.”

In a related development, Chief Executive Officer of Kariakoo Market, Mr Msoka extended his condolences to businesses owners for the loss they incurred.

“This fire has consumed all the shops on its way. I extend my condolences to Big Bon Petrol Station and the Bank of Africa (BOA Bank) whose buildings were gutted,” he pointed out.

Likewise, he appealed to the government to show compassion and support the affected business owners during this difficult time.

One of the affected business owners, Saidi Rajabu, shared the devastating impact on his livelihood, estimating a loss of assets worth 15m/-.

“I have been significantly affected because the only business I relied on has been entirely destroyed,” Rajabu lamented.

“I am a man with family. I have children to care for and pay for their education. Honestly, my life has been severely affected,” he added.

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