Monday, February 20, 2017

Market fire leaves 500 homeless, jobless, #Uganda - now they can go file for refugee status


AMURU: At least 500 people have been left homeless and counting loses after a mysterious fire razed down their houses in Elegu trading centre, Atiak Sub-county Sub county Amuru District on Monday morning according to police assessment report.
The report also indicated that the fire that began at about 3:45 am lasting for about an hour destroyed over 300 temporary structures comprising of residential and lockup shops.
The inferno is the worst fire incidence to have affected traders and locals at the trading centre located at the Uganda –South Sudan border.
The Aswa regional Police Spokesperson Mr Jimmy Patrick Okema while addressing the press on Monday in Gulu town said the fire began from part of Elegu main market before spreading to the residential areas.
Mr Okema said an assessment conducted by police indicated that more than Shs 300 million worth of properties were destroyed in the inferno.
He said the fire consumed houses mainly constructed using bamboos, papyrus mats and iron sheets on an area that measures 150 meters by 70 meters.
Police, however, said cause of the fire is yet to be established, adding that it was easy for the fire to spread because houses are congested and constructed with inflammable materials.
The Chairperson Atiak Sub County, Mr Wilfred Odiya Baguma told Daily Monitor that they suspected the fire was started by an electric short circuit from one of the houses in the area and easily spread due to the congested structures.
Mr Baguma added that there are several buildings with improper electricity wirings crossing from one building.
“There is too much congestion at Elegu trading centre because people are building semi-permanent structures on government land. We are advocating that the council passes resolution to decongest the area,” Mr Baguma said.
He also faulted the District town board over their reluctance to begin issuing land titles to traders occupying the government land to decongest the area.
Mr Ronald Waswa, whose pub was razed down in the inferno, said he lost Shs 30 million worth of properties and merchandise as well Shs16 million cash, he had kept in the building.
He appealed to the district local government and the central government to come to their rescue.
But Amuru District Chairperson Mr Michael Lakony when contacted on telephone said the district has no emergency fund to help the affected residents.
He however faulted the traders for going against the district directive to construct semi-permanent structures instead of temporary shelters that are used for both business and habitation.
This is the third time fire is destroying business in the area in less than three months.
Early last month, a devastating fire burnt down 40 shops in the area, a month after 20 shops had also been destroyed in another fire.

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