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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Huge fire at Nakumatt Downtown (Grocery Store), Nairobi

Huge fire at Nakumatt Downtown (Grocery Store), Nairobi

Six people have been rushed to hospital with injuries from the Nakumatt Downtown fire. A police chopper could be seen flying overhead as security officers monitored the fire. The City Council fire brigade and other emergency vehicles are at the scene. Throngs of city residents watched from a safe distance as police controlled crowds. Witnesses said the fire had spread to adjoining buildings.
Nakumatt Holdings, the company that owns the Grocery store suffered another major setback earlier in the year when one of it's stores was brought down by Kenya government officials because it was constructed on a road reserve.

The company also extended its investments to Rwanda and is expected to be listed at the Nairobi Stock exchange in the near future. It is the largest supermarket chain in East and Central Africa. Its major challenger in Africa is Tesco, from South Africa.

The company began as a small retail shop in Nakuru, Kenya several years back and has grown expanding to all major cities and towns across the country.

Nakumatt's major competitor in Kenya, Uchumi supermarkets,once used to be the largest supermarket chain and a household name in the region but was relegated to back position mainly due to mismanagement and stiff competition emanating from the rapid expansion of Nakumatt to areas where Uchumi previously operated in a near monopoly. Other supermarkets are also currently expanding at a rapid rate and will be ready to fill the gap left by the burning of Nakumatt Downtown. The chains include Tuskys, Naivas and WoolWorths supermarkets.

Update 1

7:00 pm (+3GMT)- I am currently standing next to the burning Nakumatt Store, there many people watching. The police are present on horses. they have cordoned the area around the burning store. Seems the fire has spread to adjacent buildings, billboards have been destroyed by the fire, trees have not been spared either. Right now it seems the City council is out of water, as the fire is yet to be contained. The supermarket has been totally destroyed, there are no hopes of salvaging anything.

Shops near the burning store have all been closed down, business is at a standstill because of fear of either the fire spreading or guys looting.

The air is full of chocking carbon, it is getting dark

Update 2: 29th January 2009 - 9:00 am

Over 12 hours since the Nakumatt fire started, there is smoke coming from the ruins. Fire fighters are present trying to get the source of the smoke.

"We cant get in just yet, the building is unstable, but we are trying to devise ways to get to the source of all this smoke" says one of the firemen.

The area is still out of bounds and has been sealed off by the police.

Press reports say that Four people are feared dead while six have been injured in the inferno.

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