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Big economic setback

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-As fire burns several business houses at Vamuyan Conneh’s market complex

At least 15 stores operating within the A. Vamuyan Conneh General Market complex in Vai Town, Bushrod Island burnt down to ashes early Monday Morning, 15 March, in a troubling fire disaster that many onlookers say has left a ‘big economic’ setback for affected business owners. Up to press time, the cause of the fire remained unknown.

There was weeping as store owners and other affected petty traders who stored their goods in affected buildings in the market area had trooped to the scene and saw the damage.

Business houses were completely destroyed without anything being taken out, according to eyewitnesses.
Many victims of the fire incident who spoke to this paper could not disclose what may have caused the fire outbreak because according to them, it happened as a surprise to them.

At least 15 stores got completely burnt without anyone retrieving penny from the stores. The NewDawn newspaper gathers from some eyewitnesses that the fire may have resulted from electrical shocks; but others at the scene have suggested that it may have been caused by a flammable material probably left in one of the stores. None of these suggestions could be verified immediately.

Patrick Massaquoi, a private security guard assigned at the market explains that while he and other colleagues were sitting at the main entrance of the market, they saw heavy smoke at the back of the market and rushed to the scene quickly to know what was going on.

Massaquoi explains that to their surprise, they saw stores in flames.
According to Massaquoi, they immediately called the Liberia national Fire Service (LNFS), but states that its intervention did not make any impact.

Mariama Bah, one of the business persons whose stores were affected, explains that while at home, she received a call from one of her sisters who resides in central Monrovia, and got informed that her store along with several others, had burnt down to ashes.

Mariama explains that she thought her sister was joking, but when she appeared at her business center, she saw dozens of business houses completely destroyed without a penny taken from inside.

The business woman discloses that she had been selling imported used clothes and shoes for the past twelve years, lamenting that she doesn’t know where to start from in the midst of the difficult economic constraints in the country.

Fire Service personnel at the scene declined to speak to the press after failing to extinguish speedily to minimize the damage Goods worth hundreds of thousands United States dollars, along with infrastructure, were left to destroy completely.

Anyone visiting the scene of the fire may think that the incident could have been attributed to arson due to the minor and condition in which the business houses were destroyed.

Several businesses operating in the area had in the past been destroyed by fire, but findings into investigations remained undisclosed by authorities of the Liberia National Fire Service.

The affected business owners are calling on central government through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) to quickly come to their aid by providing microloans to help the victims get back on their feet.
BY Emmanuel Mondaye–Edited by Winston W. Parley

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