By Shout-Africa Cameroon correspondent – The disclosure was made by the Civil Protection Commission after an evaluation tour to markets yesterday.
Any talk about markets in metropolitan Douala quickly recalls disasters whose colossal losses have clung to memories over the years. As a consequence of fire outbursts commonly imputed to faulty electrical connections, little or nothing was known that lighted cigarette tubs, explosion of gas lighters, electrified pressing iron and other equipment forgotten unto the next day could plunge the entire market into a razing fire. Business persons in Nkolouloun disclose such important causes in a recent vox pop with Cameroon Tribune.
As Christmas approached, the economic capital was not without reports such like “fire outbreak again in Marché…” Such catastrophes in the years gone by did not only lead to insurmountable economic consequences that compelled some traders to pack for their villages, but also slackened national economic growth and hastened drop in the living standard of individual households. A reasonably counter measure has been government’s creation of Department of Civil Protection in MINATD charged with sensitization and prevention of catastrophes. Civil Protection Director, Dr. Jean-Pierre Nana, convened stakeholders for a visit to markets in Mboppi, Congo, Sandaga and the Central Market and held a restitution workshop in continuation of discussions held in Limbe, South West, in February 2011 to curb catastrophes in markets. The delegation consisting of commission members, Divisional Officers, mayors and fire fighters noted some 100 fire incidents between January and December 2011, evaluated how effective the measures to curb disaster in markets decided upon in Limbe were being implemented in urban Douala.
Of the causes that predispose Douala’s markets to catastrophes, insufficient equipments, vigilance and security, inability of existing security and vigilante, faulty electrical connections. Fire Fighting Brigade raised setbacks like inadequate equipment, for instance the need for a helicopter to evade delays caused by traffic jam, among others. Alice Maguedjo, traders’ union president, warned that fire incidents in Mboppi are due to vengeance by some traders expelled from the market after the Urban Council sold the same place to more than two persons. “Authorities should stop selling places when markets are already full and there no spaces left,” she said. Oscar Kong, trade union president of Sandaga, was concerned about the anarchy that reigns in the market: “it has forestalled 60-65 per cent of traders from paying their dues. A catastrophe is looming,” he warned. It was resolved that markets will recruit a special force known as “Market Police” to maintain law and order, while the general public is called upon to use ICE (In Case of Emergency) as name registered to a phone number to be used in any form of catastrophe.