Investigative Reports

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Somaliland Government to Mandate Fire Extinguishers to Combat Future Fires in Markets

According to the Minister of Interior Mr. Mohamed Kahin, the Somaliland government is developing laws that mandate the availability of fire extinguishers in businesses to help combat fires similar to the one that destroyed the Waaheen market on April 1st, 2022. Minister Kahin added that the lack of access created by the disorganization of the market layout has made it difficult for firefighters to put out the Waaheen market fire and that the upcoming legislation will address these issues.

Minister Kaahin stated in collaboration between the Ministry of Interior, the Police, and Fire services, that the upcoming legislation will ensure that every business will have a fire extinguisher and that failure to do so will result in the revocation of the business license.

Major fires have broken out in the past, Somaliland’s largest market in the border town of Wajale has experienced two major fires. According to Minister Kahin, road obstacles have been cleared and fire and emergency services have been trained to prevent and fight future fires.

Existing building codes in Somaliland do not mandate fire safety such as costly sprinkler system installation, clearly marked fire exits, and other basic fire safety guidelines such as maximum occupancy. In addition, there are no fire marshall services that inspect premises for fire safety. It is unclear if the upcoming legislation will holistically review building codes and ensure fire safety and prevention measures are given priority.

Although a cleanup operation of the Waaheen market has been completed, the cause of the massive fire that completely destroyed one of Somaliland’s biggest markets and wiped a government-estimated 2 billion US dollars worth of wealth has not been determined as of yet and it is unclear if there is an active investigation is ongoing and what progress and determination have been made so far.

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