Following the recurring fire incidence in Kano markets metropolis, the Center for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) has organized a policy intervention lecture with a view to proffering tangible solutions to devastating fire outbreaks. The lecture which was themed ‘’GIS Based Fire Incident Emergency Response: A case study of Kano urban markets’’ draws various stake holders in order to develop a robust framework towards salvaging the markets from fire outbreak.
Giving his welcome remarks, Executive Director of the center Dr. YZ Ya’u noted that fire incidences especially of recent are quite alarming while ways of averting their occurrence can be effectively developed using technology and functional equipment, and geographical information system (GIS) can be utilized to achieve that. YZ Ya’u recounts how some relevant scholarly researches conducted can help prevent fire incidences but were not being used because either they policy makers did know about them or they were simply not interested in applying them. He added that this dialogue had purposely brought the research community, the policy makers, the trader communities and the civil society groups so that a collective strategy could be developed in preventing future occurrences of such devastating fire incidence.
Also commenting, the chairman of the occasion Prof. Mustapha Hassan Bichi of Civil Engineering Department BUK maintained that the lecture came at the right time saying fire incidence is one of the many natural disasters that requires emergency response, and to have a very good response you need to have a good plan, functional necessary tools, and make sure there are adequate trained personnel to execute the plan.
The paper presenter, Malam Nura Rabiu of KNUPDA observed that in the last five months Kano has witnessed four devastating market fires which included GSM Market, Kurmi Market, Singer Market and Sabon Gari the most recent and devastating in which 3,800 shops were burnt with properties worth N2 trillion. Nura Rabiu regretted that the loss suffered is touching and therefore requires collective effort as well as deployment of technology such as GIS to prevent future occurrence and provide quick emergency response. He said while southern states have been using GIS technique in terms of crime management and fire disaster, the north which has greatly suffered from fire outbreaks is yet to benefit from the technology. Application of GIS can simply give location of the fire, quick route to the scene, the available fire station around, hydrants to use and also sticking to the three minutes international standard response time, Nura added.
The presenter also noted that distribution of the fire stations within the metropolis has a higher concentration in the core city. However, it is clearly envisaged that the spatial relation between the markets and the fire stations is virtually nonexistent as only Sabon Gari Market is provided with the facility (fire station). He recommended that:
- Kano state fire service should build a database management system for effective fire incident emergency response and other rescue operations.
- Where the resources are limited to meet the international standard, fire hydrants should be provided. This covers reactivating the existing ones within the markets (e.g. Sabon Gari Market Plan).
- Planning authority should consider emergency issues for Market layout design to ensure quick response.
- Development control measures by the planning Authority should be more proactive so as to ensure compliance with the approved plans.
- Single Power Source should be provided and be controlled by market management.
Some of the challenges highlighted during the lecture included:
- Barriers created either by the merchants or authorities which easy passage of the fire service vehicles.
- Hydrants are no longer functional.
- Fires are not discovered at the early stage.
- Fire service lack adequate and up to date firefighting equipment.
- Traders lack basic sensitization on fire occurrence and safety measures.
- Some people smoke and drop cigarette filters within the markets.
- Many roads are completely blocked.
- Impunity on the side of KNUPDA by allowing illegal structures.
- Absence of emergency and safety measure within the market vicinity.
Recommendations made during the lecture also included:
- Government should use relevant researches conducted in the past aimed at ending fire outbreak and providing emergency response and safety measures.
- KNUPDA should be impartial in the discharge of its duties, stop illegal structures accordingly.
- Short emergency numbers need to created, made available as well as get well circulated or disseminated.
- Traders need to be sensitized on switching off electrical appliances while closing their shops.
- Sustainable plans must be in place and executed.
- The model/lecture should be designed in native language and particularly Hausa in order to target a number of traders and the populace in general.
- Fire service should have a unit dedicated to strategic positions/locations.
- People must develop attitudinal change.
- Fire service should stick to the three minutes international standard response time to fire outbreak.
- Fire service should also develop a database, not wait for anybody to report fire outbreak but use GIS to monitor and receive alarm of fire incidence.
- There should be collaboration between fire service, planning and development agency, and other related bodies.
- Markets security personnel must be trained and go on daily/routine patrol to ensure prevention of sad occurrence.
- Real nature of the markets need to be studied in order to develop functional solutions.
- The markets need to be decentralized in order to ensure decongestion.
- Politicians, civil servants should stop interfering in the operations of KNUPDA.
- Traders must stop illegal and unnecessary extensions.
- There should be strong laws on illegal extensions.
- Every shop should have a fire extinguisher.
- People need to be security conscious.
- The water board should have a raw water network for firefighting, direct it to appropriate places like the hydrants in the markets.
- Government should provide reservoirs that use natural gravity to get water into appropriate pipes.
- Government should implement the necessary recommendations.
The lecture was attended by academics, civil society groups, traders form various markets, fire service personnel, SEMA, KNUPDA, media and many other guests.