ON WEDNESDAY September 7 2022, reports filtered through that the Glen View 8 Complex was engulfed in yet another inferno.
Many tales are again coming out of the mysterious fires that continue to setback approximately 3 000 people who eke out a living at the complex.
The first thing the people tell is that their suspicions have gone beyond common arguments that thieves burn down the complex especially after stealing goods from the complex.
In an interview with the Independent this week, Complex youth chairman Reward Maupa dismissed the assertions adding that furniture makers and their merchants at the complex are perplexed by the fires.
“This has been happening since 2011. Every summer a fire breaks out and we are left with the task of trying to rebuild our lives when there is such a disaster.
“This must be the 13th time that we have had such an incident. We have had people talking about deliberate fires to cover up some misdeeds but there was a time when the fire started in broad daylight.
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We believe some people are being mischievous; especially those who use voodoo powers. There are also beliefs that there are some evil spirits associated with the place,” Maupa said. Maupa also lamented the unfortunate fires that end up affecting all people who earn a living at the complex. The fire last week completely destroyed about three quarters of the complex and approximately 3 000 people were affected.
One tailor at the complex only identified as Gwashavanhu said she lost all her belongings during the inferno including sewing machines. “The fire broke out when we were already home and we only heard about it late in the night and I lost everything including the sewing machines I use. “We lost goods worth thousands of United States dollars and we are not sure how we can recover. We are losing property each year from these fires and they remain mysterious,” Gwashavanhu said.
She said the fires have made life difficult for a lot of people as some have clients that could have paid in advance. “We have to tell the customers our predicament but the situation is desperate,” she said. Willard Magatara, who lives at Churu Farm, said there were claims of an electrical fault as the cause of the fires.
He lost four sets of sofas, sewing machines and other valuables. “I lost goods worth almost US$10 000 and I am not even sure whether I will recover that. The other challenge is that no one assists the people in the event of a loss.
“We are not covered by any sought of insurance and when disasters strike like what happened last week, each individual has to find their own way of recovering,” Magatara said. What has become the major source of concern is the fact that next to the complex is a fuel service station and houses that are adjacent to the area. In an interview, Harare City Council spokesperson, Innocent Ruwende said the situation is made worse by the unavailability of water to fight the blaze.
“The fire division faced water challenges since there are no available hydrants in the area. The brigade had to get water from Tilbury Road in Willowvale industrial area about four kilometres away while the central fire station was about 14 kilometres away. “The brigade came across multiple issues including crossing electrical cables which were not concealed. Access to the area is always a problem as the road will be blocked by the entrepreneurs as they make efforts to salvage some of their property,” Ruwende said.
He said access into the complex to extinguish the fire was also difficult because of no clear paths in the complex.
“There was no water provision in the area on that day. There are no hydrants installed at the complex, previously firefighters would rely on using unclean water from a nearby stream.
“The stream water was heavily polluted by upstream industries that discharge waste into the stream making the water unusable with fire service pumps compounding the water availability problems,” he added. Ruwende also highlighted the major risk of the service station next to the complex.
“A nearby service station is the major risk resulting in the fire brigade concentrating on protecting it to avoid a possible further disaster should it catch fire,” Ruwende said. He said the city council is looking at constructing barricades of about three metres around the service station and along the residential premises perimeter.
Council is also looking at paving the whole complex while looking at redesigning it. “We would want to install hydrants preferably with an auxiliary supply of water while a perimeter wall be put up to avoid nearby grass fires igniting the complex.
“We are also looking at segmentation of work processes to be done to reduce the fire hazard while wood shavings waste would be properly disposed of in time to avoid huge accumulation that normally happens and increasing the fire load in the area,” Ruwende said. Ruwende said council was also looking at widening the road that cuts across the area to increase mobility.
With yet another fire bringing business at the complex to a standstill, many residents are worried that people at the complex could lose their lives while the amount of revenue lost due to the outbreaks remains invaluable.