Fire guts Uganda-South Sudan border market

Monday February 11 2019

The remains of the market after the devastating

The remains of the market after the devastating fire. PHOTO BY JULIUS OCUNGI 

By JULIUS OCUNGI

A fire outbreak at the bustling Ugandan-South Sudan border market in Elegu town council, Amuru District has left several traders counting losses.

The fire reportedly started in the wee hours of Monday morning razing down shops, clinics, restaurants and residential buildings at the Eastern side of Elegu Market, opposite Elegu Police Station.

Elegu Market, located a few meters away from the South Sudan border town of Nimule, attracts several traders from within Uganda and South Sudan.

Mr Michael Okema Opilo, the Elegu town council vice chairperson told this reporter in an interview on Monday that the fire razed down about 33 makeshift structures in the market.

He noted that more than 60 traders lost valuables worth millions of shillings and are currently stranded.
“We are unsure what exactly could have sparked off the inferno, but preliminary investigations indicate that fire could have been spread from one of the restaurants. We are waiting for the official investigative reports from the police,” he said.

He noted that concerned locals with the help of police and the army put out the fire before it could engulf the whole market.

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Mr Opilo said that continuous fire outbreaks in Elegu Market are to be blamed on congestion and the materials used to build the temporary market structures.

Amuru District leaders have over the years faulted the traders for going against the district directive of building semi-permanent structures instead of temporary structures that can be easily gut by fire.

The Aswa River regional Police spokesperson Jimmy Patrick Okema confirmed the incident saying preliminary investigations pointed at electrical short circuits that sparked off in one of the structures.

Mr Okema said the police have over the years been challenged to respond to emergency fire outbreaks in Elegu town council due to lack of firefighting trucks. He said despite the presence of a fire control department at the Police station, the equipment provided to them are not enough to handle bigger fire incidences.

Elegu market has over the years been prone to mysterious fire outbreaks.

In January 2017, more than 40 shops were razed down in the fire outbreak.
In February 2017, a devastating fire outbreak destroyed over 300 temporary structures comprising of residential, restaurants and shops, displacing about 500 people.
In May 2017, more than ten shops were burnt down after fire engulfed a wood workshop.
In January 2018, more than 200 structures were burnt to ashes, displacing about 400 people after fire gutted western part of Elegu Market in Elegu Zone II parish.

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