Bamenda market fires: Arson or accident?
BY Wambo Emmanuel/Mokum Lawrence in Bamenda
Fire incidents on shops and schools have now become the order of the day in the North West and South West regions since the social unrest that gripped the two English speaking regions of the country.
Over 60 shops were razed at the Bamenda food market early Tuesday, March 14, 2017 morning, with damage estimated to at over FCFA 150million. It is still unclear as to what might have caused the inferno considering that the market was not connected to the electricity grid.
A similar incident also occurred at the Bambui market, where over six stores caught up in flames with material damage estimated at over FCFA10million. Nkwen market was not left out as two cold stores and six provision stores also went up in flames.
The market master of the Bamenda Food market whose only name The SUN got as Kenneth told reporters that about sixty shops had been identified as burnt completely as at the wee hours of the disaster. He thanked the timely intervention of the police and the national gendarmerie whose water cannons have been stationed all over the town since the start of the uprising on December 8, 2016. The anti riot vehicles were suddenly turned into a rescue gear rather than on protesters.
When asked about the possible cause of the fire, Kenneth said the police have launched an investigation and until the results are out, no one can say for sure what caused the fire.
The market master however disclosed that, a letter was discovered by a security official on the streets of Bamenda, threatening to burn the market because some traders have failed to respect calls for ghost towns on Mondays. The market master also added that the benches of butchers along the street of the food market were burnt two days earlier as a sign of warning. Even though the Bamenda food market is known to be selling only food stuffs, it also has provision stores, cosmetics, electronic, fashion shops and beer parlours.
The impact of such an incident on the traders could not be over emphasized as many of them who were directly impacted could be seen collapsing and wailing out loud in desperation. Some said they had borrowed huge sums of money from financial institutions to fuel their businesses