The government, through the Ministry of Devolution and Planning has issued a press statement on the Gikomba fire disaster. According to the press release, initial reports point to a case of arson.
The fire is said to have started at around 3am and continued to raze down structures at the famous market for the better part of the morning. Traders and members of the public could be seen assisting overwhelmed fire fighters for hours.
Devolution CS, Mwangi Kiunjuri, expressed sympathies to affected traders and promised that the national government in collaboration with the Nairobi County government will look for ways to cushion traders against such fire disasters.
Meanwhile government agencies have launched a probe to find the definitive cause of the inferno. The Devolution CS also promised stern action against those who will be found responsible for starting the fire.
He also noted that the government will assist in reconstruction of the market with permanent structures. Most structures in Gikomba, arguably the largest open air market in East and Central Africa, are temporary, fashioned out of wood and/or iron sheets.
Fire disasters in the market that employs millions of Kenyans directly and indirectly are fairly common. The crowded nature of the market and narrow alleyways often make it difficult for fire fighters and other emergency responders to deal with disasters such as that which befell the market today.
Respective governments have repeatedly made promises to modernize the market. However, all that remains a pipe dream once elections are done and dusted.