Hundreds of traders lost their sources of livelihood Thursday evening when a ferocious blaze swept through parts of the ancient Kumasi Central market, flattening everything in its path.
What caused the fire was not immediately known but eyewitnesses said they spotted a small blaze on top of a shop, and within minutes, it spread to other shops with lightning speed.
The Kumasi Central Market had in recent times been gutted by fire outbreaks, which destroyed shops and wares that were being kept in them, leaving people to speculate about the causes.
When DAILY GUIDE visited the market around 9:00pm, the place was filled with thick smoke, as the fire had gutted the wooden stalls and items filled in them including secondhand clothes.
Most of the affected traders who heard the unfortunate news had already converged on the place, weeping uncontrollably as they watched the fire consume their wares.
The wind was blowing in the city, and this according to witnesses, was a contributory factor to the alarming speed at which the fire travelled in the market.
Personnel of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) were seen fighting the blaze in the dark as more curious people rushed to the area to witness the unpleasant spectacle.
Most of the fire fighters complained that they could not locate fire hydrants and this, they said, made their efforts of quenching the blaze a bit difficult. ‘They have built on the fire hydrants in the market,’ a firefighter said.
Most of the traders, both men and women, cried bitterly as the fire burnt their goods amid shouts that they had lost all their sources of livelihood so life was not worth living.
Some of them claimed that they keep their money in the market, bemoaning that the blaze had consumed their wares alongside their money so they would not know how to survive.
The police, led by DCOP Kofi Boakye, the Ashanti Regional Police Commander, stood at vantage points to stop criminals from taking advantage of the situation to steal.
The police chief told the paper that the police rushed to the place ostensibly to ensure that harm was not caused to anyone, adding that they were also there to prevent hoodlums from breaking into people’s stalls.
DCOP Boakye said the police drove away the curious people from the roads leading to the market so that the fire fighters could move in and out and battle the fire without any hindrance.
The Ashanti Regional Minister, Samuel Sarpong, lamented over the fire outbreak, especially the damage that it had caused, noting that the market was too old; hence the frequent fire outbreaks at the place.
He announced that a bill had been sent to Parliament regarding the construction of a modern market in place of the old one, stating that the construction of the market would stop the fire outbreaks.
The minister said latest by two months, the people in the city would see the commencement of work on the proposed new market, urging the traders to cooperate with the contractors when they start work.
From I.F. Joe Awuah Jnr., Kumasi
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