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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Police launch investigations into the Garissa County Assembly fire

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Detectives in Garissa Town have launched probe into what might have caused fire that engulfed part of Garissa County Assembly chambers and several offices on Thursday.

The Assembly’s leadership led by Speaker Ibrahim Ahmed Abass was hauled up in a meeting for the better part of day to discuss the next course of action.

Fire brigade from Garissa fire departments were joined by the military to battle it out with a huge fire that the official said it has consumed 40 percent of the premises.

The cause of the fire that started at the ‘Hansard’ side of the chambers at around 8am Thursday morning could not be immediately established however assembly leadership suspected an electric fault.

However, the level of preparedness by the county fire department also came into scrutiny as it emerged that one of the vehicles had a mechanical problem thus delay in responding to the fire.

Police had also a hard time in controlling the public and curious onlookers that had even blocked fire firefighters from accessing the premises.

The fire was so intense that it rapidly consumed the entire adjacent offices for the staff and assembly members, firefighters were later joined by Military personnel to contain the huge flames.

During the incident, speaker’s office and that of the assembly clerk were spared as members of the public joined in salvaging documents from other offices.

This happened even as the wooded offices that housed auditors, committee meeting boardrooms, member’s offices, Hansard offices, committee clerks, researchers amongst others came down in ashes.

County Assembly clerk Mohamud Santur who was at the assembly with several MCAs said they could not immediately ascertain the damage but confirmed that the assembly chambers were completely destroyed.

“We are still battling with the fire but I can say it has consumed 40 percent of our infrastructure, we are also not sure of the cause but we will give the police and other relevant departments to do investigations,” he said.

Santur said most of the important documents have been salvaged from the offices saying an assessment will also be done to ascertain the degree of damage.

Both leader of majority Mohamed Gabow and Minority Mohamed Ali described the fire as unfortunate that its damage will take so long to recover.

Mr Gabow ruled out an arson attack saying the assembly is guarded 24 hours however called on authorities to immediately commence a probe to establish its actual cause of the fire.

“Because of the level of guard in these premises we don’t expect any foul play since also the usual suspects including procurement and finance are not part of it,” he told journalists at the assembly.

The damage he said is massive and county leadership will in the coming days have a series of meetings to have a supplementary budget to address some of the immediate issues.

By midday, the firefighters had made several trips to and from the assembly to fetch water as they strive to totally contain the huge fire, the assembly is located at the heart of Garissa town surrounded with several stalls.

The minority leader said the activities of the assembly have completely come into a halt since the fire has completely consumed the chambers which he said is the engine of the assembly.

“All business of the assembly is now in jeopardy, we can no longer conduct our business as usual because the fire has destroyed all important offices,” he said.

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