A ban on candles is long overdue

People gather at the scene where one Steven Luyomba,50, his wife Doreen Nafula, 35 & their 3 children were burnt to death as they slept after the fire tore through their house in Yoka zone in Bukasa parish, Makindye Division in Kampala. Photo | Sylvia Katushabe

What you need to know:

The issue: Candle fires

Our view:  What is needed is for the government to make solar affordable to all. Ban candles today and work on making solar and other clean energy solutions affordable for all

Steven Luyomba, his wife Doreen Nafula, and their children Sumei Lubega, Edith Naiga, and Andrew on Tuesday evening retired for the night in their home at Yoka zone in Bukasa Parish, Makindye Division in Kampala to what was supposed to be the universally acclaimed ‘sweetest thing.’ But that sleep turned into the worst nightmare as they were disrupted by a fire in their home and lost all desperate battles to escape – it claimed their lives.

Luyomba and his family became just another statistic in the grim epitaph of fire victims in this country. They had been reduced to charred remains by just a tiny piece of energy item called a candle. Where bullets kill in violent times, the candle has arguably become one of the single most devastating killer “weapon” in peaceful times, “attacking” and taking lives and causing loss of property worth billions of shillings annually in the country.

While there are no official figures readily available on the number of victims of fires started by candles, there is enough evidence to call for serious attention on how to move away from reliance or even any use of this wax substance. From the lowest village setting to modern city abodes, candles know no class. Like the makeshift kereone lamp (tadoba) that dominated nightlife in the yesteryear, the candle is almost indispensable to most homes in a country where even those living a stone’s throw away from power generation plants such as in Jinja endure intermittent power cuts.

Several fire incidents in schools that have claimed lives and caused huge losses in property destroyed have been blamed on candles. Yet solar energy offers safer alternative to the candle. What is lacking is the needed deliberate effort from the government to effect lifelong change from candle to solar.

Concerned authorities such as Parliament need to look into this. At a time governments are spending billions in conferences to discuss clean energy solutions, it should be embarrassing that tadoba and candles are still lit in homes and causing deadly fires.

A government that keeps losing its citizens and their property to fires must at some point ask itself the big question – until when? For the country, that moment was yesterday. And today is the time to say enough is enough with the candles.

A total ban on candles is needed to kick-start a clean energy revolution and save lives of the citizens and their property. Giving incentives that promote affordable energy solutions is one way to go about it. Moreover, the country is already dotted with so many solar energy providers. What is needed is for the government to make solar affordable to all.

Ban candles today and work on making solar and other clean energy solutions affordable for all.

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