Inferno at Bamenda Main Market: 300 shops razed

North West Governor assures victims of the Bamenda Main Market inferno

More than 300 shops have been consumed by the ravaging fire that hit the Bamenda Main Market in the evening of Thursday 22nd February 2024.

According to North West Governor, Adolphe Lele Lafrique, the number is still uncertain as army rescue fighters are still on the side, putting out the remaining fire.

On an inspection visit to the site, Friday 23rd February 2023, the Governor was taken aback at the level of damage caused by the fire.

Remains of the over 300 shops razed 

The fire erupted at about 5:30 PM, Thursday, as traders were returning home after the day's sales. Unfortunately, they were greeted with smoke emanating from one of the shops. Before the other vendors could put out the fire, it had crossed to other shops and became a wild fire.

Efforts by the army rescue unit to put out the fire were futile as the fire continued to spread from one shop to another. The hydrant in front of the market was ineffective, causing the Army rescue truck to move down to Santa Park on numerous occasions just to get water. Before they could return after fetching the water, the fire had grown to higher heights.

Work continues to put out the fire

It took the express intervention of onlookers who stormed the other section of the market, removing the aluminum roofing sheets that the fire was contained.

Some few items were rescued by the shop owners but the general damage caused is estimated at billions.

Adolphe Lele Lafrique has assured the victims of the Market that a commission will be set up to evaluate the level of damages caused and the victims will be compensated adequately.

The Governor also hinted that some 30 people were admitted in hospitals after the incident due to shock but have all been discharged. No human life was lost due to the incident.

The other section of the market not affected by the fire is under heavy security from the defense and security forces.

Inside the Bamenda Main Market

Traders of the Bamenda Main Market have blamed the level of damage on the crowded nature of the market where even pedestrian tracks have been occupied by lock up sheds making accessibility in and out of the market difficult. 

Even the truck of the army rescue unit could not access the inside of the market, the hydrant inside the market has been blocked by new sheds.

One of those who witnessed the start of the fire said they did not master how to use the fire extinguisher to stop the fire from consuming other stalls and by the time the army rescue came, the fire had grown large and containing it became very difficult.

How the fire incident started 

Heavy fire engulfs half of the market 

One of the victims, the Observer learnt recently sold her house to purchase a shop in the market and it was brought down to ashes. 

While the Governor prepares to set up the working commission, the population has been making recommendations.

They have recommended that access roads be open in the market to allow vehicles to enter the market in case of an emergency. Furthermore, fire extinguishers should be installed around the market and those who sell there be taught how to operate them and lastly, the aluminum roofing sheets should be replaced by decked walls.

While the administrative and municipal authorities are looking for measures to bring back the market to life, traders have been called to remain calm though many don't know where solace lie.

The Governor was accompanied by Municipal and security officials. 


Ndi Tsembom Elvis

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