Around 33 percent area of the city’s only and largest market of fruit and vegetable caught fire on Wednesday causing over Rs 200 million losses to traders. As usual the concerned government departments showed negligence despite repeated requests by traders who finally managed to extinguish the fire by themselves. The fire broke out in a section of the highly congested Sabzi Mandi.
According to Asif Ahmed, former Vice Chairman of Market Committee, the Administrator of Sabzi Mandi, Murtaza Baloch, did not bother to visit the market and arrange fire brigade to douse the fire. “It was the traders and workers who at last saved the Mandi with hectic efforts of over three hours,” he said, adding that around 1,000 shops and shades reduced to ashes and millions of rupees worth goods, vegetables, fruits and boxes were gutted. All vehicles and motorcycles parked along the affected side of the market were also burnt down.
“We were informed by an unknown caller at 1:50pm that a fire broke out at new vegetable market at Super Highway, Chief Fire Fighter Ehtishamuddin said. “Reacting to this information, some 20 fire tenders were immediately rushed to the spot but the vehicles were stuck due to severe gridlocks created after the disturbance in the city. Resultantly, the rescuers reached the site late that charged the vendors emotionally and they created hurdles in rescue work besides beating the six workers severely.
Traders said they also contacted secretary agriculture ministry and Additional IG Sindh who later arranged the fire brigade but the machinery reached the market late and were unable to extinguish the fire with their limited capacity. The traders also brought water tankers by themselves, they added. The fire was controlled by 4pm. Asif Ahmed demanded of the government to compensate the traders to reconstruct their shops and other installations, otherwise they would be left with no option but to keep the market shut for indefinite period.
Panic gripped traders when the fire reached close to the cold storage. However, luckily the fire was controlled before it could struck ammonium gas, said Waheed Ahmed, Chairman All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetables Exporters Importers and Merchant Association (PFVA), adding that the market stretched around 100 acres but has no safety appliances and system to meet any eventuality. Poor infrastructure, lack of cleanliness, civic facilities and security were the other woes of the traders that remained unaddressed ever since the entire facility was shifted to this place from the heart of the city, he added.