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Mice: Agents Of Market Fires   
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Illegal connection of electricity, improper handling of fire, arson and sabotage have all been cited as possible causes of the recent fire outbreaks at some of the country’s major markets, but a possible cause that has been overlooked has to do with mice.

The rodents are believed to chew the electrical cables at the markets, thereby exposing the wires, which, upon touching one another, lead to fire outbreaks.

A former manager of the Accra Markets Limited, managers of the Kaneshie Market Complex, Mr Henry Kwame Amporful, told the Daily Graphic yesterday that getting rid of mice at the markets was very critical in reducing the spate of fire outbreaks.

He, therefore, called on the government and owners of the markets to undertake an exercise every year to clear the markets of rodents

Mr Amporful said inasmuch as he could not discount illegal connection of electricity and cooking at the markets as possible causes of the fires, “we must also look at the rodent factor and conduct rodent control exercises at the markets”.

The frequency and the scope of devastation of recent fire outbreaks at the Kantamanto, Makola, Madina and Agblogbloshie markets have caused tremendous financial loss to hundreds of traders and left the nation wondering what the causes may be.

While some people attribute the causes of the fires to illegal electricity connection and cooking by traders at the markets, others suspect that the infernos are the handiwork of arsonists and political saboteurs.

But mice now stand accused as principal architects of the fire outbreaks, as they chew everything that they set their eyes on at the markets, including electrical cables.

Giving his experience of managing the Kaneshie Market for 25 years (from 1979 to 2004), Mr Amporful said, people should not narrow the cause of fire outbreaks to illegal connections alone because mice could be the cause of the fires.

He said after two major fire outbreaks at the Kaneshie Market some time in 1991 and 1993, the management of the market undertook an investigation and found out that mice were a major cause of the problem.

Mr Amporful, who is now a private legal practitioner, said the finding was contrary to earlier views that the fires were due to illegal electricity connections.

According to him, the insulator covering electrical wires contained some substances that seemed delicious to mice, for which reason they chewed it, after which the wires were then exposed and when they touched, fire raged.

He said the reason many of the fires occurred in the night was that mice normally operated in the night.

He said following the investigation conducted at the Kaneshie Market back then, the management of the market decided to address the problem by organising a rodent control exercise every year.

“We could get about two or three barrels of mice after each exercise. Since then, the fire outbreaks at the market stopped,” he remarked.

On the issue of the use of fire by traders for cooking and other necessities, he said traders, by virtue of their enterprise, would surely use fire at the markets for various reasons, such as warming palm oil and smoked fish.

Mr Amporful, therefore, stressed the need to demarcate some parts of the markets where traders could use fire for various activities.
Source: Kofi Yeboah - [email protected]

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