Monday, November 22, 2010

Makola Razed Down..Mills dashes to Market

Nii Armah Ashittey (left), Greater Accra Regional Minister briefing President John Evans Atta Mills. Looking on is Nii Tackie Commey (right), MP for Odododiodioo.

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By William Yaw Owusu

saturday November 20, 2010
Shop owners at Makola Number Two Market in Accra could not contain the trauma of seeing the investments in ruins as they broke down in tears following a deadly inferno that swept through one of the modern markets in the country on Thursday evening.
The Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) was tested on its fire control capability again as the firemen were overwhelmed by the fire which teased them for several hours as onlookers wondered whether they were really primed for the assignment.
The fire which started at about 6:45pm remained untamable by the firemen with their tenders until around midnight leaving in its trail destroyed goods worth several millions of Ghana Cedis and collapsed traders.
Several public buildings and markets have seen one fire incident or the other sometimes leaving their trail deaths apart from destruction of properties.
Residents in the neighbourhood wondered why a nearby fire station, the Accra Central Fire Station not too far away from the location could not manage the fire for several hours and leading to the destruction of so much property.
The intensity of the fire could be determined by the pockets of smoldering fire dotting the place as firemen moved around to put them out with soldiers and policemen on standby to contain any act of lawlessness or outright theft when such situations arise.
A fireman told DAILY GUIDE that they have been working all night to bring the situation under control an indication of how serious the fire was.
The place had been thrown into a state of mourning and market women, even men wept uncontrollably over the loss of their wares and capital, with victims claiming that they cash in their shops.
The main gates to the market were said to be locked at the time of the fire outbreak, making it difficult for fire tenders to gain access to fight the fire a deficiency which prompted questions about such a modern market would be built without such access.

It took several hours for fire personnel to break through the market gates but their inability to get access to fire hydrants exacerbated the situation and about three traders were said to have collapsed upon hearing about the disaster
Eyewitnesses gave contradictory statements about how the fire started. While some said power outage triggered the inferno others claimed it was due to electrical faults.
At about 10:04am, President John Evan Atta Mills arrived at the scene to assess the extent of damage for himself.
The President who was visibly shaken by the turn of events assured the victims of the government’s commitment to assist them to get back into business and also said he would order an investigation into the disaster.
In a brief message he said “this fire outbreak is a bother to all of us so I came to assure you that we will investigate to know what exactly happened.”
“But I am appealing to the NADMO, AMA, and the Regional Coordinating Council to assist you. We as a Government will not turn our back on you. I know that most of you are wailing and weeping because you have lost your capital completely. So we will do whatever we can to help you,” he promised.
Nii Armah Ashittey, Greater Accra Regional Minister who was in the company of Nii Tackie Commey, MP for Odododiodioo advised the traders to observe basic safety rules to prevent disasters such as what had happened.
He said the Regional Coordinating Council will collaborate with all stakeholders to ensure that the market was rebuilt.
Nii Tackie Commey also assured victims of the government’s support to get them back to business.
He appealed for fire hydrants and access routes in the various markets to forestall future occurrences.
The original Makola Market was also razed by a mysterious fire many years ago and the displaced market women transferred to the location which was torched last Thursday.
The market was constructed with SSNIT funds with modernity as the watchword.
But with impossible access for fire tenders and the absence of fire hydrants it is difficult not to condemn the engineering works of the facility.
Major markets have been scenes of fires in the past few months. The Kumasi Kejetia Market had its share of the mysterious fires having tasted it twice or so, as well as Kantamanto Market in the Central Business District of Accra.
However there was no report of life lost.

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