Mogadishu — The Municipality of Mogadishu is set to open its first government-run fire station since 1991 after purchasing three fire trucks, Mogadishu Mayor Mohamed Ahmed Nur announced last week.
The fire trucks were purchased with financial support from the Somali community in the United Kingdom, Nur said, although he did not specify the amount of money.
One truck has reached Mogadishu and the other two are on the way, he said, adding that the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) is training 15 people between the ages of 25 and 40 on fire-fighting techniques.
"We expect them to make a major difference in the lack of fire fighting resources in Mogadishu when they are fully trained," Nur said at a news conference January 8th. "We will establish telephone numbers for the public to call when in need of fire-fighting services."
In the over two decades without an official fire station, privately owned services in Mogadishu have provided some protection, but they have fallen far short of adequately addressing the capital's fire-fighting needs.
Mustafa Abdirahman, a 34-year-old clothing trader, said he is thrilled about the purchase of fire trucks for the Benadir region. Abdirahman lost $10,000 worth of inventory when his store was destroyed by fire last year.
"I had a large clothing store in the Bakara market that was completely destroyed when a strong fire started in my store. I lost everything, as no one attempted to put out the fire because it started at night and there was no fire-fighting service," he told Sabahi.
Mogadishu resident Fadumo Nur, 42, was also a victim of a fire when an electrical fire started in her electronics store in the Hamar Weyne market in early 2012. Nur said she was fortunate because AMISOM forces assisted her in fighting the fire and were able to control it.
"I lost about $15,000 in that fire," she told Sabahi. "My fellow business owners in Mogadishu have the same problem. As Somali business owners, we thank the municipal council and the regional administration for their effort in bringing new fire trucks to Mogadishu."
Mohamed Warsame, 56, who worked for the Mogadishu Municipality in the 1980s, said Mogadishu's acquisition of fire trucks shows progress and recovery from the destruction of the past two decades. He said it is only a first step, however, as Mogadishu needs more than three trucks with an estimated population of 3 million.
"Over the past 21 years, many Somali people lost their wealth when their businesses caught fire because the city did not have adequate fire services available," Warsame told Sabahi.
"Mogadishu used to have a fire fighting unit that was on standby every night and day and served every part of the city," he said. "I hope that it will go back to the same or even better."