Traders Lose Millions as Blaze Guts Goods in Ntungamo Bus Fire

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Traders are counting losses after a bus headed for  Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was engulfed in flames on Saturday, June 29th, 2024, in Ntungamo district.

The bus, belonging to Friends Bus Company Ltd with registration number UBL 996N, caught fire near the Jet Oil fuel station in Rubaare town council. This bus was carrying over 40 people headed for Goma- Gisenyi in DRC.

According to Rwizi Region police spokesperson Samson Kasasira, the fire originated from the rear tire. The driver attempted to extinguish the flames with on-board fire extinguishers, but the blaze quickly spread.

“The bus attendants also noticed flames coming from the back tire and tried to put it out using their extinguishers, but the fire had already taken hold of some parts of the bus,” Kasasira said.

However,  the officer in charge of Rubaare police station ASP Jim Muzora said they called the Fire Brigade from Ntungamo Central Police Station, roughly 19 kilometers away.

Unfortunately, by the time firefighters arrived, the fire had already destroyed a significant amount of property.

“We towed the bus to Rubaare police station for inspection as investigations into the cause of the fire are underway,” Kasasira added.

The fire caused millions of shillings in losses, and traders onboard reported losing a vast amount of merchandise, including clothes, books, shoes, cosmetics, laptops, belts, and mobile phones.

Asiimwe Herbert, one of the affected traders, recounted the devastating experience.

“My belongings, worth 6 million shillings, were reduced to ashes. The fire brigade took too long to arrive, and by the time they got here, everything was already gone,” said  Herbert.

Herbert, along with other traders, raised concerns about the bus’s mechanical condition. They urged police to hold the bus company accountable, suggesting that a mechanical issue might have caused the fire.

“The bus could have had mechanical problems. The police need to investigate thoroughly and hold the company responsible. We can’t just accept losing everything like this,” Herbert proposed.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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