9 October 2012

Zambia: Over 30 Cars Go Up in Flames

OVER 30 assorted motor vehicles have been burnt to ashes in a fire that broke out at a private car park in Lusaka in the early hours of Monday morning.

The vehicles parked at Ismak Medical Clinic Car Park in Lusaka's Kanyama Township, included public service minibuses and six other motor vehicles.

A Zambia Air Force (ZAF) Toyota Carina, registration number, ZAF 3791B and two brand new minibuses said to have been in operation for only two days, were among the vehicles gutted.

As several people including some owners of the vehicles inspected the remains, scores of bus drivers and conductors could not hide their emotions on realising that the vehicles were their source of income.

Police have since launched investigations to establish the cause of the fire that swept through the premises situated near Masauko Market between 02:00 hours and 03:00 hours.

A Times crew yesterday found hundreds of Kanyama residents and some vehicle owners trying to salvage some parts.

In an interview, caretaker, Kamoto Phiri said he only saw a spark coming out from one of the smaller vehicles parked in the middle of other vehicles.

Mr Phiri said the fire later spread and caught several other vehicles and within a short time, the whole car park which is surrounded by shops and houses, was engulfed in a huge fire.

"I quickly called the police who communicated with the fire brigade but when the fire brigade came, I was disappointed that they had little water and they came late and the fire was already growing," he said.

Mr Phiri said the crew ran out of water forcing them to return and scout for more water but when they arrived, the fire had grown too big.

Amos Mwitwa, one of the drivers whose minibus was destroyed, said he was informed around 04:00 hours and immediately rushed to the scene.

He said his efforts to retrieve the bus that used to operate on the Kanyama-Town route, failed because it was blocked and parked in the middle of other vehicles.

Mr Mwitwa said many drivers failed to remove their vehicles because there were others blocking the way.

"Life has become so difficult now...I don't even know how I will feed my family because my source of income is destroyed. I can't even manage to get a single spare part from the bus," he said while shedding tears.

Another driver identified only as Mike said although people parked their vehicles at owners' risk after paying a charge of K7,000 per night, he never expected to find the bus in ashes.

He appealed to Government to assist the affected 30 drivers including their conductors with other means of finding resources to feed their families.

Other people talked to at the scene said they only managed to remove a few vehicles after they broke down part of the wall fence.

They appealed to Lusaka City Council (LCC) to ensure the Fire Brigade Department was equipped with effective facilities to meet any fire calamity.

Agnes Mweetwa was disappointed that the fire brigade would go to a fire scene in most cases without adequate water.

Police had also rushed to the scene to provide protection to the property.

Police deputy public relations officer Charity Chanda said in a statement yesterday that police had launched investigations into the cause of the inferno.

The incident happened between 02:00 hours and 03:00 hours.

The cause of the fire and the value of the vehicles have not yet been established.

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