Thursday, 31 August 2017

Fire Burns 3,000 Stands at Kapalala Market In Ndola

Remains of Kapalala Market in Ndola
By Paul Shalala in Ndola

Goods worth millions of Kwacha have been destroyed to ashes at Kapalala Market in Ndola after a fire swept through the market yeasterday, destroying over 3,000 stands.

The fire, which started around 01:30hrs, was only quenched around 06:00hrs.

Fire fighting crews from the Ndola City Council, Luanshya Municipal Council, Indeni Petroleum Refinery and the National Airports Corporation battled the inferno for several hours.

Ndola Chief Fire Officer Wellingtone Mulambo says it took long for the fire crews to quench the fire because the market had no access roads.

Mr Mulambo says fire fighters found it difficult to access some burnt areas because stands were burnt too close to each other and fire fighters had to destroy some of the stands to create roads for fire tenders to pass.

"We are on the scene within five minutes of a phone call. When we came here, almost all parts of the market were on fire. The challenge was that the market is made up of planks, cart boards and plastics.

There was so much wind blowing and stands are built too close to each other," said Mr Mulambo.
At around 05:00hrs this blogger arrived at the scene, marketeers were found wailing and watching helplessly as their goods went up in flames.

"Iam going to suffer. All my goods have been burnt and i do not know how i will find money to pay for the school fees for my children,"shouted Cecilia Chitafu as she cried.

Ndola Mayor Amon Chisenga, who was on site at the time, expressed regret over the fire incident.
He disclosed that from preliminary assesments, over 3,000 marketeers have lost their goods.

"How the fire started, we do not know because there are too many versions. So we are leaving everything in the hands of the Police to investigate and give us a report," said Mr Chisenga.

Meanwhile, Police have arrested a 30 year old resident of Kabushi who is suspected of being behind the fire.

Copperbelt Police Commissioner Charity Katanga says the suspect has been charged with the offence of Criminal Recklessness and Negligence which is centrally to Section 237 (C) Chapter 87 of the laws of Zambia.
Copperbelt Police Chief Charity Katanga (left) with
Luanshya Mayor Nathan Chanda inspecting the
 damage caused by fire at Kapalala Market yesterday

Ms Katanga says the suspect, whose name has been withheld for security reasons, confessed how he lit a brazier which later exploded and spread the fire to other stands.

She has disclosed that the suspect took Police officers to the scene and demonstrated how the brazier he was using spread the fire.

"We have concluded without any reasonable doubt that the man we have arrested is the one behind the fire. He confessed having lit the brazier and even demonstrated how it exploded, spreading the fire all over," said Ms Katanga.

The unidentified man is currently in Police custody and is expected to appear in court today.

Ms Katanga says a further 12 people have been arrested for looting goods at the market.

She says the suspects were spotted stealing goods and transporting them to their homes.

Two marketeers are currently battling for their lives in hospitals following the fire.

A man, who Police have only identified as Francis, threw himself in the fire in a bid to commit suicide and suffered 100% burns.

And a woman who could not hold herself when she saw her stand go up in flames, collapsed and lost consciousness.

Kapalala Market is believed to be the largest market in Ndola.

At its peak,  about 6,000 trade at the market which is located in Masala area of Kabushi Constituency.

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