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Kenya: Fire razes section of Toi Market in Kibera Nairobi

A huge fire has razed a section of Toi Market in Kibera, some seven kilometres from Nairobi’s central business district.

Witnesses told the Nation that the flames broke out at 3am on Tuesday and by 6am, they had reduced to ashes property worth millions of shillings.

By 6.30am, the flames were still spreading fast and shanties, including those in residential areas, could be seen smouldering after being reduced to ashes.

Clouds of black smoke could also be seen billowing from make-shift stalls that were used to store bales of apparel overnight.

The city county government sent two fire engines to the scene and by 9am, they were still battling the inferno that had spread far and wide.

The affected traders, most of whom do not live in Kibera slums, arrived at their places of work only to start counting losses.

Several businesspeople suffered severe cuts and burns in the earlier morning as they rushed to try and salvage what was left of their businesses.

Many could be seen standing next to where their stalls were located, probably hoping they could find a thing or two they can salvage.

Mr Isaac Mwangi said his mother lost everything she the business he claimed enabled his education.

Mr Steve Odhiambo, who equally lost all his wares, called on Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko to allocate funds to assist the affected.

“We don’t have jobs, this was our only source of livelihood but we were not able to salvage anything. I request the governor to assist us so that we can start again,” Mr Odhiambo.

The cause of fire was not immediately established but the traders and locals suspect it could have been as a result of an electric fault.

The open-air market, famous for used clothes, fresh produce, artefacts and toys, is located on the outskirts of Kibera slum, one of the biggest informal settlements in Africa.

The market with 3,500 stalls and more than 5,000 small-scale traders sits on a four-acre plot on Suna Road and there have been plans by the Nairobi City County government to erect modern houses on the parcel.

The meeting place for thousands of buyers and sellers has suffered the stinging pain of fire incidents since 2014.

For investors here, battling flames has become an annual nightmare that consumes their investments and leaves them nursing severe burns of losses.

The informal market was rocked by infernos on November 2014, June 2015, February 2016, May 2017, and January 2018, sparking speculations by traders and the local community that there was a plot by some land grabbers to elbow them out of the market.

The 2014 fire destroyed a large section of the market, rendering hundreds of traders jobless.

Investigations by the police established that the fire started in one of the stalls before spreading to others.

By Daily Nation

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