Vendors left in tears as fire guts Gulu market


Fire gutted Gulu Main Market and left property worth millions of shillings in ashes.

The fire, which broke out at about 5am on Friday, destroyed sewing machines, bales of clothes, restaurants and shoe stores.Witnesses say the fire started from a garbage site behind the shoe stores. This is the second time that fire has gutted the market since November last year.

The chairperson Gulu Main Market Vendors Association, Mr Geoffrey Opiyo, says 150 vendors have been affected.He blamed the repeated fire outbreaks on laxity in security of Bardege Division where the market is located.

“We agreed with the Division leadership after last year’s fire to provide security for the market but nothing has ever been done,” Mr Opiyo said.The market relies on few and ill-equipped watchmen hired by the vendors but they are too few to monitor the whole market area to ascertain where the fire started from.

Mr Opiyo said the market is vulnerable to fire outbreaks because of the poor structures. “If we keep with these structures at the market, we shall be facing the same kind of fires now and again,” Mr Opiyo said.He said completion of the new market under construction has delayed, prolonging the vendors’ risk.

He appealed to local leaders and humanitarian agencies to come to their rescue.Ms Jacqueline Akwero 32, a vendor in the market, who has twice lost merchandise to fire, said she lost more than Shs600,000 worth of property. “It’s the second time I am being affected by fire at the market. I have no idea what I am going to do now. The education of my children is at stake,” she said.

Aswa Regional police commander Francis Wafana called for calm.“We are investigating the circumstances surrounding the fire outbreak and police will work closely with the vendors to see that the market is secured against any future fires,” he said.


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