Flanked by government and Hargeisa Municipality officials Somaliland President Muse Bihi inspects the fire gutted Waheen market
The government of Somaliland has established a kitty towards the reconstruction of Hargeisa’s Waheen market as well as support business owners.
This follows the complete destruction of the sprawling market in the capital city’s central business district following a huge fire on Friday night.
“I have established a reconstructing Committee composed of government officials, chamber of commerce and local merchants tasked with the immediate reconstruction of the market and provision of relevant support to the businesses that have lost everything” said President Bihi during a visit to the market where he supervised firefighting efforts.
The massive fire tore through the main market in the Somaliland capital city of Hargeisa overnight, injuring about two dozen people and destroying hundreds of businesses, officials said on Saturday.
Waheen market, is home to an estimated 2,000 shops and stalls that employ over 5000 people not to mention that it is main source of the capital city’s foodstuffs, clothing, furniture and electronic gadgets among others.
The effectiveness of Firefighters from the local Municipality’s with support of counterparts from Ethiopia were severely hampered as the vast market is a crowded warren of shops and makeshift stalls, with no proper streets usually accessed through narrow pathways.
Informing that about 28 people, nine of them women, were injured and no loss of life though goods worth millions of dollars and relevant structured completed destroyed, President Bihi thank all the responders both local and foreign for their efforts.
The President extended special thanks to the Ethiopian federal government that dispatched four firefighting trucks from Jigjiga the capital of the neighbouring country’s Somali administrative region.
Upon ordering the just established taskforce to embark on immediate reconstruction President Muse Bihi also announced that the government would be releasing $1m to help with the emergency response to the disaster.
Addressing reporters at the scene the mayor of Hargeisa Councillor Abdikarim Ahmed Mooge said that “The town has never witnessed such a massive calamity,” Adding that
“This place was the economic centre of Hargeisa and even though the firefighters did their best to contain the fire, the market is destroyed.”
Stressing on the imperatives of expedited modernization of various facilities in the city Mayor Abdikarim Mooge pointed out that the blaze could have been brought under control before causing such extensive damage but that the firefighters’ efforts were hampered by access problems.
The cause of the blaze that gutted the sprawling Waheen market – the lifeblood of the city and – is not yet known .