Yesterday, Glenview Area 8 furniture complex was caught up in flames which destroyed a lot of property. The complex is home to several hundreds of entrepreneurs who sell various furniture products like Sofas, Wardrobes, Kitchen Units, Tables etc. This comes barely 6 months after another fire destroyed a lot of property in that same location. Eye witnesses who spoke to us say it was a case of an improperly disposed cigarette stub which resulted in a nearby sofa catching fire which began to spread uncontrollably. “It was thrown on flammable shavings which transferred the fire to a nearby sofa and foam rubbers and in a matter of seconds the flame grew uncontrollably and all we could do was try and save the little that we could” – an eye witness said.
Around 14:47 pm, the Harare fire brigade was notified of the fire. For 15 minutes the fire was building up, while the fire department was on its way to the scene. People could be seen running up and down trying to save their lives and goods. The whole area was caught up in a frenzy as those close to where the fire started could not bear the sight of their goods being engulfed by the vicious flames.
Upon arrival, the fire brigade was met with a number of challenges chief among was securing water to put out the fire. The nearby water source was contaminated with oil and they had to resort to finding an alternative water source at High glen shopping center. Meanwhile, people could not leave it all to the fire department as they resorted to putting out the fire before it reached a nearby fuel service station. What they did is commendable, because by the time the fire brigade returned with enough water, the fire had been stopped from engulfing the fuel station.
What is it that can be done to ensure that areas this does not happen again?
Establish a safe working environments policy
The Ministry of Ministry of Women Affairs, Community Small and Medium Enterprise Development has to make it its policy to ensure that safe working environments are maintained in the Glenview Area 8 industrial hub, Magaba and other such spaces. Currently, these places are not safe to work in. Equipment and materials used require operators to exercise extreme caution. In Glenview Area 8 Furniture Complex, a concrete slab and divided workspaces have to be put in place as part of ensuring safety between work spaces. Each workspace should then be furnished with at least one fire extinguisher to guard against the spread of fire in the event that it breaks out. Perhaps companies manufacturing fire extinguishers should take up this initiative. The is need for the area to be well furnished with water a number of water points. These should be accessible to people around the work area and also easily accessible to fire fighters in the event that another outbreak occurs.
Train workers on workplace ethics
It should be made government policy, as well, for every worker in such spaces to undergo training on work place safety practices. Accidents of this nature are as a result of negligence influenced by ignorance and little regard for upholding safe working habits. You would find that an individual working with flammable substances such as paraffin or thinners will be smoking while carrying out his work. Imagine the risk that individual will be putting himself into. Companies that promote public safety should look at this as an opportunity to expand their businesses and offer training on the work ethics and habits tailor made for these individuals.
Relocate to unused Industrial Spaces
There is a lot space in Workington, Willowvale and Granatside industrial areas which can be put to good use by relocating some SMEs located in Glenview Area 8. Imagine the benefits which might be accrued from this move if each SME is given a safe working space and made to pay reasonable rentals to the government. These SMEs however should be yielding a potential to grow their businesses and contribute meaningfully to the country`s GDP. We can’t allow SMEs to be constantly being pushed out of business when they can be located somewhere safe and with an environment that promotes growth.
SME Emergency fund & Insurance
There is need for an emergency fund to be set aside particularly by the Ministry of SMEs which will cushion the affected in times like these. The Glenview Area 8 Furniture complex will have to be placed under an insurance scheme which will come in handy when accidents of this nature happen. Current cries are about how will the affected come back into business would not be a concern if they are insured.
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