Manama suq traders warn of blaze threat
Manama, June 19, 2014
Traders have warned of "destructive" fires that could devastate hundreds of businesses in Bahrain's oldest suq if safety measures are not upgraded.
They say the majority of more than 1,300 shops in the Manama Suq do not have smoke detectors or sprinklers and fire engines cannot enter parts of the market because of its narrow streets, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
Manama Suq committee vice-chairman Mahmood Al Namliti said businessmen have raised concerns of the lack of safety and precautionary procedures in the market.
He said traders fear a fire similar to the one that happened in the Muharraq Suq on June 2 that gutted 42 shops could happen in Manama, but the results would be catastrophic.
"There are no smoke detectors or sprinklers in majority of the over 1,300 shops in Manama and in some areas even the fire tenders cannot enter because of the narrow lanes," he said.
He told the GDN yesterday that several dilapidated buildings and shops in the market have poor electrical wiring which posed a major threat.
"After the Muharraq Suq fire, we as traders are concerned about the Manama Suq as this is a congested area with shops adjoining each other selling textile, perfumes to even small restaurants," he said.
"God forbid but if there is a fire it will be a disaster."
Al Namliti urged authorities to install cameras that detect smoke in key economic zones across the country, in addition to increasing security in traditional markets.
"These cameras are being used in neighbouring countries and are useful as within matter of seconds, civil defence personnel and people in the area are informed of smoke billowing out from an area," he explained.
He added that traders were still trying to overcome financial difficulties caused by the 2011 unrest.
"We are still trying to reach break even or even sustain our businesses, but what we are seeing is that traders are losing thousands of dinars not because of losses but because of fire," he said.
He referred to the gas cylinder explosion that damaged more than 10 shops at the LuLu Centre last month.
"This is another example of how markets in Bahrain are ill equipped to deal with fire related incidents," he said.
"We met with some shop owners at the popular shopping mall who are demanding to reduce the rent because of the damages and are now pushing to open their stores before the holy month of Ramadan."
According to latest figures, 652 fires were registered by the Interior Ministry last year and 101 cases were recorded from the start of this year until March. - TradeArabia News Service