Accra woke up to another fire outbreak on Wednesday at the Pedestrian Mall, Kwame Nkrumah Circle, which razed down at least 300 shops.
The fire, which was reported to have started at about 1a.m., swept through the entire market area, destroying wares, largely secondhand clothes, garments and other combustible materials, running into thousands of Ghana cedis.
Despite deploying eight fire tenders from the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange, National Headquarters, State Transport Corporation, Abelenkpe, Makola, and the Greater Accra Fire stations, Wednesday’s inferno appears to have been the most devastating to have hit the market as the collective effort could not quench the flame.
In the wake of the disaster, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has directed the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) to make available funds to support traders who had their wares destroyed by the inferno.
“Through the NBSSI, support is going to be provided to the over 3,000 persons affected by the fire, within two (2) weeks”, the President gave the assurance.
President Akufo-Addo also indicated that “Government will undertake the re-wiring of all markets in Greater Accra to forestall such tragic occurrences in the future”.
The above interventions, the Ghanaian Times believes, are laudable and would in the long term re-establish the businesses of victims and prevent or minimise outbreak of fires at the market in future.
We are, however, of the view that the government should go beyond the above-mentioned interventions and deploy a more pragmatic approach to addressing fire outbreaks at that market and others in the country where the outbreaks have become perennial.
This pragmatic approach should include the total redevelopment of the market from its combustible nature of wooden stalls and containers to a modern market.
If this is done, the lanes would be properly demarcated for fire tenders to have access to the market in case of a future fire.
We are of the view that now that the scene has become ‘ground zero’, the government must take advantage of the situation to redevelop the market rather than allowing traders to erect their own stalls again with flammable materials as has been the case in the past.
As some eyewitnesses told the Ghanaian Times at the fire scene, it was difficult for the fire tenders to access the market to douse the flame.
“When the fire tenders got here, they were looking for an entrance into the market so they could go in there to put the fire off but they didn’t have access. They had to park at a distance before attempting to put the fire out but to no avail”, an eyewitness said.
We are fully aware of the financial implications on the government kitty as it may not have been budgeted for, but we are convinced that the price of attempting to salvage wares after every bout of fire outbreak is higher than redeveloping the market to bring an end to the perennial fire.