President John Evans Atta Mills yesterday directed the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) and the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) to work out relief details for about 800 traders whose stores were burnt down by Thursday night’s fire at the Makola Number Two Market.

In a visit yesterday to the market to acquaint himself with the situation after the fire outbreak, the President said the speedy compliance with the directive would enable the government to provide the needed support for the victims to restart their business.

The fire reportedly began at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday when the traders had closed their stores and gone home.

It burnt down about 800 stores, destroying jewellery, textiles, plastics, clothes and silver bowls running into thousands of Ghana cedis.

One Fire Service officer collapsed after hitting an electric pole, while two NADMO volunteers also sustained minor injuries while fighting the fire.

The Fire officer was rushed to the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital and was said to be responding to treatment.

The fire scene presented a bitter-sweet picture – while some of the traders searched through the debris to retrieve undamaged goods, some scrap dealers were busy picking aluminium, copper and roofing sheets.

The military men on duty had to chase some of the scrap dealers away.

The President’s visit to the Makola Number Two Market in the early hours of yesterday morning attracted applause from the traders, as they had not anticipated his visit. He occasionally waved at the traders, who also waved back and clapped their hands.

He was accompanied by the Greater Accra Regional Minister, Nii Armah Ashietey; the Accra Regional Police Commander, DCOP Rose Atinga Bio, and the Member of Parliament for Odododiodio, Nii Tackie Kommey.

President Mills assured the affected traders that the government would not neglect them, saying, “We will not turn our back on you.”

He said investigations would be conducted to establish the cause of the fire.

The Managing Director of the Makola Market Company, Mrs Rose Margaret Kpodo, told the President that the fire started at 6:30 p.m. moments after power had been restored.

She said the people around tried to use fire extinguishers to put out the fire but they could not bring it under control. Contacts were then made with fire officers who came with fire engines.

The Fire officers could not get water from the three water hydrants at the market, compelling them to go to distant places for water, a development which delayed the fire fighting.

The fire was eventually put under control around 2 a.m. yesterday.

Mrs Kpodo later told the Daily Graphic that the company had insured the stores but lamented that only about five per cent of the traders had insured their goods.

Mrs Christiana Aba who sold jewellery at the market claimed that she had lost gold running into hundreds of Ghana cedis and about GH¢8,000 cash which she wanted to use to buy some goods.

The Security Co-ordinator of the Makola Market Company, Mr Samuel Fudzie, alleged that some criminals had been around when the fire started and that the security men on duty had decided to shut the gate to prevent looting.

He said some of the goods were salvaged and kept in some stores.

Some Fire officers were still at post to douche the remaining fire as of the time the President visited.

Meanwhile, a five-member committee to probe the devastating fire which consumed about half of the market has been inaugurated by the Greater Accra Regional Security Council (REGSEC), reports Michael Donkor.

That followed an emergency meeting by members of the REGSEC a day after the fire outbreak which destroyed about 800 stores.

The committee is made up of the Greater Accra Regional Crime Officer, Superintendent Frank Adufati, as Chairman; representatives of the Regional Fire Service and the Makola Market Limited; the Head of the Greater Accra Regional NADMO, Mr Winfred Teshia, and the Co-ordinating Director of the AMA, Mr Jude Tuffour.

At the inauguration of the committee, Nii Ashietey said it had seven days to submit its report after which a support programme would be organised for the affected traders.

Source: Daily Graphic/Ghana