500 people displaced in Elegu market fire

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AMURU: About 500 people have been left homeless, others counting losses after a fire razed down houses in Elegu trading center, Atiak Sub-county Amuru district on Monday morning, a police assessment report states.
According to the report, the fire that began close to 3:45am (Monday) destroyed over 300 temporary structures comprising of residential houses and lockup shops, in about an hour.
The Aswa regional Police Spokesperson Mr Jimmy Patrick Okema while addressing the press on Monday in Gulu town said the fire began from part of Elegu main market before spreading to the residential areas.
“An assessment carried out indicated that properties worth Shs 300 million were destroyed. The fire mainly consumed semi-permanent houses constructed using bamboo, papyrus mat and iron sheets on an area that measures 150 by 70 meters,” he said.
Mr Okema said the fire spread fast, the houses in the area are congested and constructed with materials that easily burn.
Although the cause of the inferno was not established by press time, the Chairperson Atiak Sub county Mr Wilfred Odiya Baguma told Daily Monitor in an interview that the fire was started by an electric short circuit in one of the houses.
“There are several buildings with improper electricity wirings crossing from one building to another. That could have led to the short circuit,” he said.
“There is too much congestion at Elegu trading center because people are building semi-permanent structures on government land. We are advocating that the council passes resolution, so that plots are issued to decongest the area.”
He also faulted the District town board over their reluctance to begin issuing land titles to traders occupying government land.
Mr Ronald Waswa, whose pub was razed down, said he lost Shs 30 million worth of properties and Shs 16 million cash he had kept in the building.
He appealed to the district local government and the central government to come to their rescue.
But Amuru District Chairperson Mr Michael Lakony when contacted in a telephone interview said the district had no emergency fund to help the affected residents to cope with the disaster.
Mr Lakony noted that he will lobby from Non-governmental Organizations so that relief items are taken to the affected people.
This is the third time fire is gutting business premises in the area in less than three months. However, this inferno is the worst recorded fire incidence to have affected traders and locals at the trading center located at the Uganda –South Sudan border.
Early last month, a devastating fire burnt down 40 shops in the area, a month after 20 shops also got burnt.

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