Saturday, June 22, 2024

Zambia Police to probe cause of fire at COMESA


Inspector General of Police Martin Malama
Inspector General of Police Martin Malama

The Zambia Police Service has instituted a committee to probe the causes of fire that gutted the Comesa headquarters in Lusaka recently.

Inspector General of Police Martin Malama has told Muvi TV News in an interview that the committee has so far not yet arrived at possible reasons that could have ignited the fire.

Dr. Malama said the committee will nonetheless issue a report soon after investigations are completed.

Operations at the COMESA Secretariat have come to a halt due to the fire that destroyed property on the top floor of the Comesa building.

Yesterday, property worth billions of Kwacha was damaged following an inferno that swept through the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) secretariat in the late hours of Thursday.

A spot check at the secretariat around 13:00 hours yesterday revealed that Young and Rubicum at the American Centre and the COMESA administration wing and their contents were extensively damaged, reducing some of them to rubble while smoke was seen smoldering in some areas besides heat being felt.

Some workers in a somber mood were seen seated outside the gutted infrastructure which the late second Republican president Frederick Chiluba inaugurated on December 8, 1998.

According to Inspector General of Police Martin Malama who rushed to the scene and witnessed the Lusaka City Council (LCC) fire brigade struggle to put out the fire, preliminary investigations indicated that the fire might have started from the American Centre around 23:00 hours and that the cause was not yet known.

The LCC fire brigade failed to contain the fire and only managed to do so after seeking reinforcement from the Zambia Air Force (ZAF).

COMESA secretary general Sindiso Ngwenya who had also rushed to the scene around 23:00 hours said in an interview yesterday as he walked through the rubble that the inferno damaged property worth more than US $2.5 million at the secretariat and equally extensively damaged property at Young and Rubicum among others. The infrastructure is estimated at US $22 million.

The visibly shaken Mr Ngwenya, who described the incident as a great tragedy and loss to the COMESA member states, said the cause of the fire was not yet known but that the building and its contents were insured.

“It’s a very big tragedy to COMESA member countries which will result in unbudgeted expenditure,” he said.

Mr Ngwenya said among the burnt items were personal documents, computers and COMESA documentation.
LCC public relations officer Henry Kapata attributed the council’s failure to quickly quench the fire despite being at the scene on time to the COMESA secretariat fire hydrants not having water, thus prompting the officers to fetch water from “elsewhere”.

“Can you imagine that even the filling station on the other side also did not have water? That could have been a very big disaster in the Central Business District had the fire crossed over to the filling station,” he lamented.

Mr Kapata said that currently the LCC only has one fire engine to cater for the entire city, adding that LCC sought reinforcement from ZAF, which he said had a much larger fire engine stationed at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport.

He urged shop owners, among others, to ensure that they had fire hydrants filled with water at all times to avoid such accidents.



  1. Why even have the so called fire fighters when they do not understand their jobs properly? they are being paid for nothing. Shame on the previous Government for having spent billions of Dollars and Kwachas without thinking about the most needed fire fighting equipment.

  2. one fire engine for the whole city? no fire hydrant in the city centre? pathetic indeed.Zambia should be serious. look at how much money is plundered instead on spending or investing in services. To be honest these are the issues that the government of the day should address.

  3. And yet people in the previous govt. can build billion kwacha bolcks of flats, hide money in the ground, keep 29 motor cycles at their homes, one of their wives from a mere primary school teacher to being a billionaire teachers.their children being billioinaires.
    What do you expect? Half the time that fire engine has no water…I mean come on where are our priorities for our beloved country. Imagine if there were people at the time of the fire, where would they have taken them for emmergency treatment….Enough is enough we need change,when do we want it now!!!!

  4. its very embarrasing 4 country like zambia where ministers hide money in ground to ran country affairs without enough fire fighting equipment,my fellow countrymen let us unite so that we push the government of the day to buy the much need equipent 4 fire fighting because next time it will be state house on fire.

  5. The whole City of over 2 million people has One fire Engine this is like a JOKE.This is a BIGGER PICTURE of What a Lack of Leadership Means.Lusaka Has had One Fire Engine in the Last 48 yrs.That is not all LUSAKA has less than 3 MRI,less than 3 T-Scan, Less then 3 Mammography, the list is Endless Liatos caught with $700,000.00 this kind of cash can buy over 10 used Fire Engines,The problem in Zambia is not money it is lack of Leadership.Please Hire me as a Special National Builder.

  6. How do you have shop owners ensure fire hydrants are filled with water at all times?A hydrant is run by city councils and is part of the larger water system so that makes no sense.Why COMESA wants to operate from a city run like a village market with ill trained firefighters & with one fire engine is beyond me.It come as no surprise at all though.We’d rather buy a new limo for the prezzo and plan a new statehouse than invest in basic life saving equipment.Backward priorities.

  7. Same old story from LCC each year. No fire fighting equipment and no water. Reinforcement from ZaF at airport. And you call this a city council. Didn’t the Japanese donate second hand fire fighting equipment a while ago? Comesa building needs a some face lift and Comesa market needs to be moved so that the area is developed with a better shopping mall as someone has suggested somewhere.

  8. Before some bloggers point fingers at the MMD, hasn’t the PF been running LCC for several years now?

    Regardless…. this can only be a wake-up call to to Lusaka! How do you run a capital city of over 2m people with 1 fire truck, no hydrants, and maybe some donated second hand equipment from Japan? Truly, I can hear Nick laughing at us now all the way from Scotland!

    Another thought…. this reminds me of what they did in Dar es Salaam some years ago when someone set up a a private fire brigade that subscribers paid for (..much like how we already pay for private security since the police are also ineffective). Non-subscribers need protection too (!), but it is shameful to have such a pathetic service with 1 truck only (w/o water) and would be almost the same to have no trucks at all!

  9. Ngwenya, can you move comesa headquaters to a more serious country, Zambia is still a joker full of selfish, heartless and brainless leaders. Those heads are just shells full of air, sex and cannabis. I am really upset with this.


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