According to the police, the fire was caused by an electric fault. However, the law enforcers are still investigating the matter to establish circumstances surrounding the incident and the real value of items razed.
The fire, the latest in the series of such incidents in the country, is yet another grim reminder or demonstration of how ill-equipped and ill-prepared our country is in handling large-scale disasters.
While we wait for the outcome of the probe, there are still more questions than answers on the part of city, municipal councils and the government department responsible for such disasters as fire outbreaks. In this country we tend to live as if disasters and emergencies are beyond us.
Memories linger of such devastating fires that have over the last three decades razed a whole Central Bank building, a chunk of the State House, NIC Investment House and several other installations of commercial and national governance importance, not mentioning other small fires across the country.
The government or the government department responsible for disasters and emergencies still needs to put in place effective plans to deal with such calamities when they happen. There is an urgent need to improve the disaster preparedness machinery in the country, which should ideally entail training in disaster management to the responsible personnel and purchase of necessary equipment for use during such emergencies as outbreaks of fire, road accidents and marine disasters.
Yet prevention still remains better than cure. It should be made mandatory for authorities to inspect all buildings in the towns and cities to make sure that the structures comply with fire safety standards. All those which do not conform must be made to correct or address any shortcomings.
Floods, as another example, can be reduced greatly by constructing appropriate sewerage systems while fire hazards can be reduced by conforming to fire safety standards. Fires, floods and accidents result in a loss of properties worth many billions of shillings, which is a setback to development. It is time all and sundry got wiser on the prevention aspect to save both lives and property.