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Inferno Again!

Feb 10, 2015, 9:46 AM

Less than three weeks ago we experienced a very fatal inferno that destroyed four bright and youthful lives in a compound at Latrikunda German, as well as valuables of the victimised family.

This disaster has left the public reeling over such a catastrophic destiny for the lost souls and the bereaved.

And before memories of that bitter experience could subside, we have had another sad news of inferno that took its toll on the residence of an illustrious son of the soil, Jaliba Kuyateh, the king of Gambian Kora, in Brikama Nyambai, which occurred at the weekend (Sat. 7 Feb. 2015).

While the Latrikunda German catastrophic incident was reportedly caused by a candle, the Brikama Nyambai one was reportedly an electrical mishap, resulting in the burning of all the materials in the houses involved in the infernos.

Whichever way it happens, a fire outbreak is always disastrous. Its afflictions are just too devastating, which calls for intensive and sustained sensitization by the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), the media and the general public.

A fire outbreak, which starts in one man’s compound, might end up engulfing others; so let’s put hands on deck to control this dark side of fire. And this can only be done through a sustained sensitization exercise or campaign.

We are, therefore, compelled to restate the fact that fire outbreak is very dangerous as, when it erupts, it is either we lose all our hard-earned property or our lives to it.

A fire outbreak subjects its victims to poverty, because anytime it occurs it leaves a painful and bitter memory difficult to erase from our thought.

It also brings economic loss to both the victims and the government and, in our case, through the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), which always struggles for funds to compensate victims of disasters.

Incidents of disastrous fire outbreaks have occurred in most parts of the country over time, such as the ones at the Serrekunda Market, in URR, and other parts of the country, bringing abject poverty to victims and, in some instances, taking lives.

In January 2013, the Gambia Fire Service conducted a sensitization exercise on how to prevent fire outbreaks.

However, it seems that has not filtered down properly to the public, as people continue to make costly mistakes through mishandling fire generation sources such as candles and electricity.

In March 2014, fire outbreaks left 20 families homeless in Jimara, URR.

In July 2014, there was another disastrous fire outbreak in Jarra West, and the story goes on, with great loss to the victims.

We repeat: the NDMA should, therefore, accelerate its efforts by embarking on an intensive awareness creation campaign to enlighten people on disaster prevention and management, so that money spent on disaster outbreaks could be utilised on other development projects.

We know they are doing their best, but there is need for more to be done.

Lives and properties should be preserved at all cost. Prevention is better than cure; so we should be careful when dealing with fire to protect our properties, as well as save our lives.

“Every step of life shows much caution is required.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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