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Four shops burn to ashes at Custom Market

At least four shops at Custom Market in the capital Juba have burnt to ashes after a sudden fire outbreak.

Sources said the fire which destroyed goods worth millions of South Sudanese Pounds is believed to have been caused by an electric circuit.

According to several narrations by eyewitnesses, the fire started around 9 AM on Wednesday.

The fire was brought under control after an effort by traders and residents with some businesspeople reporting that they lost everything in stock.

Emmanuel Jale who sells birthday and decoration items said his shop was completely destroyed by the fire.

“The electric circuit was left on and when the power was turned on, the fire starts burning properties. The incident happened when I was away and the shop was locked,” Jale told Juba Echo.

“I sell birthday and decoration items. I put the shop on rent and the person renting the shop has been on a sickbed for four days and I think he might have left the electrical circuit on.”

Monika Geoffrey, who sells scholastic materials, said she lost goods worth $50,000.

“I have lost goods worth $50,000. I am dealing in school bags suitcases and just yesterday I bought bags costing me $3,000,” she narrated in frustration.

Geoffrey added, “I had also bought schools bags at 20,000 U.S dollars and they got burned inside there.”

“Well-wishers and anyone can come to help me because it is a great loss and I really need some assistance,” the businesswoman appealed.

Juba City Council weighs in

Thiik Thiik Mayaardit, Deputy Town Mayor of Juba said the cause of the latest fire outbreak in Custom Market will be investigated.

“We are here today (Wednesday) in Custom Market where the fire has started in the morning at around 9 am. We are not aware of what might have caused the fire outbreak,” Thiik said.

“This is unfortunate and I want to tell the traders whose shops got burned that we are really very sorry and this is a very big tragedy that has happened without the knowledge of anybody.”

Thiik said that the fire spread quickly as the burnt shops were iron-sheet structures.

 “This is the reason why we are saying that we want to organise the markets we, the [Juba] City Council so that when you are given a plot, you must have built a concrete shop and when something happens like this, it will not burn all the shops as it has happened now,” he said.

Michael Lado Thomas Allah-Jabu, Mayor of Juba City said this is the fourth time a major market has burned in Juba.

“It is really a tragedy that has happened here and it is always happening. Three or two months ago, there was also a tragic incident of fire that has burned not less than 60 shops in the same market,” Allah-Jabu explained.

Allah-Jabu disclosed that the City Council will soon resume reorganization of the shops in the market.

“We in the short run, we are going to organize and see into it that those markets are reorganized so that there are enough roads for vehicles to be able to pass and for services to be able to get to their destinations.”

Fire outbreaks have not been a strange phenomenon in recent years. In December last year, about 60 shops burned to ashes at the Customs Market.

The Malakia market also caught fire caused by a gas fire and in late November 2021, the Gudele One market fire killed three people and destroyed several shops.

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