Gikomba traders on Monday sued Nairobi county government over the frequent fires that the market has been experiencing over the years.
Over 900 traders want the court to order the county government to pay them up to Kshs. 20 billion to compensate them for the losses that they have encountered as a result of the fires.
According to the case that is before the high court, the traders are demanding for compensation for direct financial loss, re-establishment costs and loss of business opportunities.
The traders argued that the frequent fire occurrences show that the county government has failed in taking required measures to prevent the fires to ensure that they are safe while doing business in Gikomba market as well as the safety of the public.
The traders listed 15 fire incidences since 2015. Among them they cited the fire on June 28, 2018 which saw 15 people lose their lives and hundreds others sustained injuries.
Through their lawyer Adrian Kamotho, the traders complained that their efforts to establish themselves have always been shuttered by the recurring fires and that they still have to pay for license fee, rates and levies among other charges by the county government.
“The Plaintiffs are at a loss as to why the Defendant would act so negligently, in breach of contractual and legal duty,” Kamotho said.
Aside from that, the traders want the court to compel the county government to set up a fire station with enough equipment to control fire whenever there is an outbreak in the next 60 day within the market which is the largest open air market in the country.
The most recent fire was witnessed in August 6. The fire which gutted down the mitumba section is said to have started a half past midnight.
Another fire was witnessed in June leading to losses amounting to millions of shillings.
It is alleged that the frequent fires occur because of suspected land grabbing, wrangles between tenants in the county houses and traders.