Another fire outbreak occurred at the Kumasi Central Market in the early hours of Saturday causing extensive damage to property.
Occurring on the second day of the new year, the incident turned the festive mood of the affected traders into wailing and sorrow.
The sweeping fire in the area, called French Line, destroyed about 800 stores stalls and huge amounts of wares and cash belonging to traders.
The area served as a sleeping place for some people, and eyewitnesses said a number of people were seen running to safe areas while the fire spread.
However, eyewitnesses said it started slowly before spreading out. Some victims of the disaster wailed uncontrollably on seeing the remains of the market.
Officials of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) who had a hectic time fighting the blaze are yet to establish the cause of the fire.
Fire personnel had serious difficulties getting an access road to battle the blaze which took about two hours to control.
“The haphazard development in the area is always a problem for personnel of the Ghana National Fire Service who arrived at the scene to fight the blaze,” Deputy Superintendent of Police (ASP) Nicholas Opare Ofosuhene, the Zongo District Police Commander, under whose jurisdiction the market falls, told the Daily Graphic.
According to him, immediately his outfit had information about the fire, they rushed to the scene and managed to cordon off the area to prevent unscrupulous people from taking undue advantage to steal items.
In the event, one person was arrested trying to cart some items away in the name of salvaging them.
As the fire became uncontrollable, thick black smoke drifted into the early morning skies within the suburb of Ala Bar close to the market.
The Kumasi Central Market, built with its loose stores and stalls by the colonial administration, has virtually no access roads for fire engines making the market a death trap.
Covering 24 acres in the central area of the city, the central market is considered the biggest in West Africa and it is home to over 20,000 traders.
However, the market has seen little development since it was constructed, as previous Metropolitan Chief Executives had paid lip-service to its redevelopment necessitating the current Chief Executive, Mr Sarpong, to get the assembly to initiate action for its reconstruction to befit Kumasi as Ghana’s second biggest city.
Coming after the last major fire outbreak at the market on May 28, 2009, when fire destroyed the entire “I8 Line” area of the market, many have appealed to the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) to expedite action on the reconstruction of the market to prevent the frequent fire outbreaks.
The Metropolitan Chief Executive, Mr Samuel Sarpong, who rushed to the scene at about 3 a.m. on Saturday, told the Daily Graphic that plans to reconstruct the market were on course and that the actual work could commence by February, this year.
The Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr Kofi Opoku-Manu, the KMA Chief Executive, Mr Sarpong, and the Regional Police Commander, DCOP Patrick Timbillah, later visited the scene at about 11 a.m. to inspect the damage caused.
Mr Opoku-Manu said the decision to reconstruct the market was on course and that visible signs would be seen this year.
He, however, cautioned against the indiscriminate use of fire and poor electrical wiring in the market, since such situations could easily lead to fire outbreaks.