AMURU: More than 60 Businessmen in Elegu trading centre, Atiak Sub county Amuru are counting losses after a mysterious fire gutted their shops at Elegu main market leaving property worth millions of shillings burnt.
About 50 shops were reportedly burnt in the fire that began at 3:45 am Sunday morning at the eastern side of the market.
Elegu main market serves both Ugandans and South Sudanese nationals given its proximity to Uganda- South Sudan border.
Mr Michael Otema, the Chairperson Business Community in Elegu told this reporter that they are still assessing the magnitude of damage caused by the fire.
He said source of the fire still remains unknown although he speculated that it could have started from a restaurant where food was reportedly left on fire.
According to Mr Otema, the structures destroyed are made of iron sheets and bamboos serving both as business premises and shelter.
“We are still unsure of the exact numbers of people affected but roughly, 50 shops and stalls have been razed down. The traders along with the police tried putting out the fire but were overwhelmed,” Mr Otema said.
Mr Otema advised traders and residents of the area to start spacing their structures to escape such fire incidences.
Mr Ronald Waswa, whose pub was razed down by the inferno, said he lost about Shs30 million worth of merchandise and property as well as Shs16 million cash he had kept in the building.
Mr Waswa said he has nowhere to begin from since his entire livelihood depended on the business adding that, “I even have pending loans to clear. I don’t know where to get the money and pay back.”
He faulted police for the lack of firefighting trucks in the area and the district leaders for their empty promises despite their plea.
The Chairperson Atiak Sub county Mr Wilfred Odiya Baguma, when contacted said the continuous fire incidences in Elegu trading centre are due to congestion and the poor planning by Amuru District town board.
“Elegu trading centre is so congested because people are building semi-permanent structures on government land. We are advocating that the council passes resolution to decongest the area,” Mr Baguma said.
Aswa Regional Police Spokesperson Jimmy Patrick Okema said that police are still investigating the cause of the inferno and magnitude of damage.
This is the third fire to destroy businesses in Elegu Trading centre in less than three months.
Early last month, a devastating fire burnt down 40 shops in the area, a month after 20 shops had been destroyed.
©Alleastafrica and Daily Monitor