Gikomba traders sue Nairobi County, demand Ksh.20 billion compensation over perennial fires

Gikomba traders sue Nairobi County, demand Ksh.20 billion compensation over perennial fires

Gikomba traders have sued the Nairobi County government demanding Ksh.20 billion in compensation over perennial fires at the market.

Over 900 traders want the county government to pay them for direct financial loss and compensation for the loss of their so-hard established businesses.

Their petition dates back to 2015 when at least 15 fire incidences have been reported at a busy market in Nairobi’s outskirts.

Their lawyer Adrian Kamotho says every attempt the traders have made to rebuild their business has always been dealt further devastation by recurrent infernos, the Business Daily reported.

The traders are accusing Nairobi County of breach of duty and refutation of the obligation by failing to put in place a suitable business continuity plan to sustain the business environment at Gikomba Market, affecting the performance of the overall economy.

They said the fires occur despite their remission of levies, rates, license fees among other charges collected by the government.

“The Plaintiffs are at a loss as to why the Defendant would act so negligently, in breach of contractual and legal duty,” Mr Kamotho said.

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Other than compensation, the traders want the court to compel the county government to establish a fire station and requisite fire containment apparatus in the Gikomba market within a period of 60 days.

The traders appealed to the government to find a  lasting solution for the fires that have s destroyed property in May and October 2014 and in  March 2012.

Some say that fires are being initiated at the market by loan defaulters at times, who set shops on fire and tell banks they lost the property. The businessmen burn them to claim insurance.

It had also been speculated that the traders themselves burn the stalls to evict tenants and charge them higher rent.

In 2015, a fire broke out twice in the market in May and June. In 2017, the Gikomba market caught fire twice on October 6 and September 10.

In 2018, the market experienced three fire cases, which led to President Uhuru Kenyatta calling for investigations.

In June that year, 15 people died and at least 60 were injured when a section of the market dealing with timber and clothes was burnt.

Kamukunji MP Yusuf Hassan claimed the fire had been planned t to evict some traders.

Interior PS Karanja Kibicho said several people in the market appeared to have known of the arson in advance.

Despite the investigations, no report was ever released.

On April 10, 2019, more than 2,000 structures were razed down as a section of Gikomba market was gutted by fire.

Additional reporting by Business Daily

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Lawrence Baraza is a prolific writer with competencies in Digital Media, Print, and Broadcast. Baraza is also a Communication Practitioner currently spearheading Digital content on Metropol TV's Digital Desk.

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