Business News of 2014-07-19

Kejetia fire victims, Regional Minister in tango

There is likely to be a tussle between traders whose wares and shops got burnt at the Kejetia market, and the city authorities as less than 24 hours after the disaster, the traders have started rebuilding their shops.

Their moves are contrary to a directive by the Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr Samuel Sarpong, who had earlier advised traders not to rebuild their shops because the area would be cleared and rebuilt into a modern market.

According to the minister, the contract for the reconstruction of the burnt market into a modern market with the entire necessary infrastructure is currently before Parliament and when passed, the market would be reconstructed. But the traders have started rebuilding their shops and have vowed that they will not allow the government to reconstruct the market.

As at 4 p.m. yesterday, the traders, with the support of some porters, had cleared almost all the debris in readiness for the reconstruction of their shops.

Ground Zero

Speaking to the Daily Graphic at the damaged market site called “Ground Zero”, the traders were unanimous in their claim that they would not accept the minister’s decision to prevent them from rebuilding their shops.

Madam Adwoa Konadu, a secondhand bag seller, who was sad because she lost all her wares, alleged that the move by the government to rebuild the stores was geared at handing them over to their cronies and rich people. She said examples abound in the country about stores that had been rebuilt but the original owners did not have the opportunity to sell in them again.

For her part, Ms Abena Nyame, whose eyes were blood-shot as a result of exposure to the smoke that was coming from the fire, was emphatic that they would not mind fighting for what was due them.

Richard Poku said he had lost wares totalling GH¢13, 000 but was speaking with his bankers who had assured him of some credit to start all over again, but noted that “this is where I get my daily bread, get money to take care of my two children; one in the university and the other in SHS Three”.

He said he could not allow the government to rebuild the place. This is because government projects always take a long time to complete and his fear was that the proposed project could also suffer the no money syndrome. He asked “when the project is not completed how I will feed my family”.

Lawrence Ntiamoah also inquired from this reporter, “Master you people know Accra very well. More markets have been burnt down than in Kumasi. Has the government been able to rebuild any of those markets and shared it to the original owners”?

Background

Last Thursday, hundreds of shops and huge piles of wares belonging to traders in the Kejetia Market in Kumasi were burnt to ashes by a raging fire that overwhelmed personnel of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS).

This is the third fire in a year at the market and the second in the same area called Subinso. On February 26, 2014 this year, a similar fire that started around 2.30am, destroyed more than 200 shops.

Last Thursday’s fire started around 8 pm and raged on incessantly for well over five hours before the personnel of the GNFS brought it under control. Unable to control the fire initially, the fire fighters resorted to preventing the blaze from spreading to other areas. The area destroyed by the fire is equivalent to the size of three football fields.

Wailing

There was spontaneous wailing by owners and relatives of the burnt shops when they rushed to the scene.

Akua Boatemaa, who had lost four bundles of secondhand clothes she procured on credit just last Wednesday, told the Daily Graphic that, “I wonder how I would be able to secure funds to restart my business and pay the loans I obtained from banks. I am, therefore, pleading with the government to advise other financial institutions to extend credit to us to restart our businesses.''

Source: graphic.com
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