Nkwen market fire incident, time to arrest “Mr Electrical Fault”

Several stalls burnt at the Nkwen Market 

The population of Bamenda III subdivision, Mezam division of the North West region were taken aback on Tuesday, November 30, 2021 at about 7:20 pm when a wild fire consumed parts of the Nkwen market.

In a frantic rush, traders who had stocked their shops, in anticipation of exceptional end-of-year sales, rushed from their homes after receiving the distress call to watch their goods go up in flames. The looks on their faces as they watched and struggled helplessly was disheartening. The army rescue unit called to put out the fire only succeeded after several shops had been ravaged by the fire.

While some persons hold contrary opinions, the city Mayor for Bamenda flanked by the District officer of Bamenda III, visited the market on Wednesday December 1, after the incident. Addressing the public and press, he stated emphatically that the fire broke out due to an electrical fault. This has been the same fault attributed to several fire incidents that have occurred around markets in Bamenda.

Items bought for Christmas sales burnt

The Bamenda Food market suffered two fire outbreaks in 2018, while the Nkwen market also had  parts of it go up in flames on February 14, 2019, with the administration apportioning the blame still  at the doorsteps of an electrical fault.

While the municipal authorities find blaming electrical faults for the fire outbreaks in city markets as an easy escape route, no measures have been taken to address the haphazard electrical wiring carried out in shops in the city markets.

Cables are seen hanging out carelessly with exposed joints from one shop to another. The quality of cables used is highly unfit for the purposes shop owners use them for, increasing risks of insulation melting and short circuits. There is no technical control and no one cares that this is a potential danger to the universal security of the market.

Bamenda City Mayor addresses the crowd

The situation is even more compounded with a general low voltage situation that has engulfed the City of Bamenda and its environs for two years now.

It is common to see rampant power cuts in the city or general low and high voltage fluctuations that have caused many to lose electrical appliances from time to time.

In 2018 and 2019, separatist fighters in separate instances brought down power transmission pylons used by Eneo Cameroon; the company charged with the distribution of electricity in Cameroon at Mbatu, an area located in the outskirts of Bamenda and under the control of armed separatist fighters. Their actions seriously affected the distribution of electricity in the entire North West region. Investigations show that the situation has gotten worse due to a failure recorded by one of the main transformers supplying Bamenda.

SONATREL, the company responsible for heavy electrical appliance maintenance has since turned a deaf ear to the plight of the people.

As the city Mayor pushes the blame to an electrical fault, more than 20 families are in grief, wondering what their future holds.

The City Mayor, Paul Achombong says he has asked the Market master to report to him without delay the items sold at the affected shops for something to be done to at least enable the victims of the incident to kick start their businesses again.

The Nkwen Market is the biggest market in the Bamenda III district and brings together traders and buyers from all parts of the region and the country as a whole. 

Ndi Tsembom Elvis

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