Ajman fire: Shop owners report millions in losses
Ajman - Civil defence authorities announced that a total of 125 shops were completely gutted in the Wednesday fire.
While wearing blue surgical masks and protective gloves, a large group of shop owners and workers stood staring at what was left of their beloved 'Irani Market' in Ajman as tears welled up in their eyes on Thursday.
Following the massive fire that broke out in the Ajman Public Market on Wednesday evening, civil defence authorities announced that a total of 125 shops were completely gutted. Brig Abdelaziz Al Shamsi, Director-General of the Ajman Civil Defence, said the fire had resulted in massive loss of goods stored in the market, including materials made of plastics, sponge and cotton.
However, Brig Al Shamsi said exact cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained. He also said the fire has cost shop owners millions in losses. "The market which consisted of 125 stalls with seven entrances has been completely gutted," he said.
He explained that 96 firefighters from Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman and Umm Al Quwain Civil Defence Departments partook in dousing the fire in a short time. The site has been handed over to the police experts to determine the cause.
When Khaleej Times visited the site, the shop owners and workers looked on the site as cooling operations continued late into Thursday afternoon.
'Market was closed for four months'
For these heart-broken shop owners, the Ajman Public Market, popularly known as the Irani Market, was not just the only source of their livelihood. "It was our second-home. We have spent decades of our life doing business in the market. Everything we own is gone," explained Sameer Billipalankandy, a 40-year-old owner of Al Wahaj Blanket and Mattress trading.
According to the shopkeepers, the fire could not have come at a worse time as the market was shut for the past four months as a precautionary measure to curb the spread of Covid-19. "We were sitting in our homes, waiting for the market to reopen for the past four months and this fire took place," he said.
For most wholesale garment traders, the warehouse for their outlets was located on the top floor of the market. Musthafa Kunhiparambath, owner of Jabal Al Noor Readymade Shop, a retail outlet that sold children's readymade garments, said: "I have lost at least Dh250,000 worth of goods. The warehouses were on the top floor. Everything is gone."
Shamsudheen, another businessowner, said: "We feared there would be a shortage of commodities and a disruption of imports in the market due to Covid-19. So, many of us had purchased more stock than usual and saved it in the warehouse. We have lost all that."
A business that he has nurtured for the past 17 years of his life, Billipalankandy said nothing has prepared him for the losses he has suffered in this fire. His shop used to sell blankets, mattresses and majlis covers. "Our losses are in millions. The market wasn't just a shopping complex. It was a place of historic value and was a tourist site. Most of our customers were Arabs, tourists and local Emiratis." The men have appealed for support from local authorities and leaders.