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Traders lose millions as fire razes custom market

Author: Michael Daniel | Published: Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Part of custom market that got burnt on Monday night in Juba - credit | Michael Daniel/Eye Radio | Dec. 7, 2021

Traders at the Custom Market of Juba are counting losses of goods worth millions of South Sudanese Pounds after fire gutted 62 shops last evening.

The fire reportedly broke out at around 6:00pm yesterday and lasted for about 3 hours.

According to the Chairperson of the Chamber of Commerce, the fire resulted from a perfume shop and spread to the entire block of the market.

Martin Juma however, says the cause of the inferno is yet to be established.

Mr. Juma is now appealing to both the state and national government to help those affected.

“We heard that the fire broke out from the perfumes shop, and what we didn’t know was what the owner was doing in his shop so we can investigate him but up to now he is still a fugitive,” Marten Juma told Eye Radio at Custom Market on Tuesday.

“We have more than 62 shops that got burned and 108 shops with minor damages. The cost of the loss is more than hundred million. I am appealing to the government if they can give a helping hand to the traders in this situation.”

 Some of the traders described the incident as catastrophic to their businesses.

They also blame the fire brigade for late arrival at the scene.

“This fire erupted yesterday in that shop, it was a small flame, there were two men carrying two jerrycans of water trying to put the fire off, but the moment the splashing water on the fire and this caused a massive fire in the place,” a trader who identify himself as Wani said.

“The fire-brigade came and stopped near the police station. The fire erupted here many times and whenever we called fire-brigade they always came late. If they had come earlier, we could have saved some items.”

“I sell cloth and shoes, and if I estimated the money it’s a lot of money. I don’t know whether the government can raise something that can make me sustain my life and my children because right now I don’t know what to do,” Mode Julius said.

“Only god knows what will happen to me because of this fire. I have a shop where I am doing sewing and I finished my Christmas orders, it all got burned. Now, I have nothing even one pound to pay for food for my children,” Mariam Shaban said.

“I don’t know where to start and how to end. I am appealing to the government to support and help because this time is beyond our ability.”

This is not the first time a custom market has caught fire with several shops burnt.

In 2015, fire ripped through part of Custom Market and destroyed at least 15 shops.

Also in 2019, a fire outbreak at the same market burnt down some shops with traders estimating over hundreds of millions South Sudanese pounds loss.

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