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Fire Guts Popular Market in Kampala

Photos and Story by Bwette Daniel Gilbert

KAMPALA, Uganda – For the second time in the past few years, a terrible fire Sunday gutted the busy market of St. Balikudembe, also known as Owino.

Hundreds of traders whose efforts to save their merchandise were in vain, lost billions of shillings worth of material in the blazing inferno.
By the time firefighters reached the scene, more than 15 minutes after the fire began, they could do nothing.
Traders who witnessed the scene could not help crying. Ambulances and private cars helped rush those who fainted to the hospitals.
A famous musician commonly known to the people as “Chameleon” came to the scene to grieve with his fellow youth and told them that they would get through this.Owino market is commonly dominated by local businessmen, youth who are either have finished high school or those who cannot go further with their education, and women.
The market is widely known for selling good quality, cheap secondhand clothes, shoes, groceries, electrical gadgets among other business.
Owino is Kampala’s largest outdoor market attracts more than 500,000 people.
This is the second time the market has suffered such a large fire in recent times. It also went up in flames in February 2009. The fate of traders who lost their businesses then still hasn’t been decided.
The community hopes that those who have suffered losses will have the courage to start again.