Carpenters at Glen View 8 Home Industry Complex are counting their losses after a fire burnt down property worth thousands of dollars last month.
The industrial area mainly houses small-scale carpenters and it is worrisome to note that the complex suffered the same fate on two previous occasions: on 28 September 2011, and on 29 July 2015.
As in the past, several arguments have been made to explain what could have caused a fire of such magnitude. Some attribute them to human error and electrical faults while others allege arson by competitors – a theory made more interesting by the fact that every Glen View fire has occurred on a Wednesday. What is clear is that there are no emergency fires services in the area in spite of the flammability of the goods and materials housed there.
Max (39) who operates in the complex but was not affected by the fire, blamed council for his colleagues’ plight.
“We are operating without any regulations to ensure safety. All the materials we use can easily burn, but there are no fire extinguishers or even signs to warn people against starting fires. Council should ensure that they build proper structures so that they can enforce safety regulations,” said Max.
Another carpenter who had his property burnt in the blaze disagreed, saying that council was not to blame and said that rather it was the people who are controlling the complex.
“The complex is being controlled by certain individuals who are using their political muscle. We always pay for council services through our committee, but the money is squandered by the committee members and in that case we cannot expect council to do any improvements in this area,” said the carpenter who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.
Council has already come up with a plan to improve the area, which was supposed to be implemented after last year’s fire but has been hampered by the lack of cooperation from the people working in the complex. Harare’s Acting Town Clerk Josephine Ncube, who toured the complex on 15 September – a day after the fire – confirmed that council officials were facing challenges in accessing the area.
“My officers are saying that they are not able to come in here (Glen View 8 Complex) because they will be chased away. … Council officials should be allowed to collect payments, collect garbage, and enforce regulations while the local committee help in policy issues. Let’s make this a new beginning not to have the false starts that we experienced last year [after the fire that gutted the complex],” said Ncube.
City of Harare’s communications and fire departments had not replied to information requests at the time of going to press.
Image: Glen View residents and council officers survey the damage caused by the most recent fire at Glen View Industry Complex.