Billions of Sudanese Pounds, Millions of Dollars Burned in Omdurman Fire

Billions of Sudanese Pounds, Millions of Dollars Burned in Omdurman Fire

Wednesday, 5 December, 2018 - 07:00
Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir at the African Union summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, June 14, 2015. © 2015 Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko
Khartoum - Ahmed Youness
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir directed the Central Bank to replace the banknotes spoiled in a huge fire that was ignited in one of the Sudanese capital's markets and burned over 300 shops, along with huge amounts of banknotes, estimated at millions of dollars, with no human losses.

The fire flamed up Saturday morning in the Omdurman souk, one of the biggest Sudanese markets, and burned shops of perfumes, clothes, fabrics, and cosmetics, but, there were no casualties.

Although official statistics determining the losses have not been issued yet, media reports estimated losses at around 850 billion Sudanese pounds, and four million dollars in form of banknotes, along with huge amounts of commodities and goods that were completely burned.

Prime Minister Motazz Moussa wrote on Twitter on Monday: "President Omar al-Bashir issued the necessary directives concerning the banknotes spoiled by Omdurman fire, which left losses worth billions of pounds in form of cash money, and commodities. He also ordered the bank to replace the burned banknotes seen in photos that went viral on social media."

Responding to an urgent issue proposed by a deputy in the parliament, Minister of Interior Ahmed Bilal said the reasons behind the fire are not known yet, however, he suggested that it was likely caused by an electrical fire.

Head of the opposition Sudanese Congress Party (SCoP) Omer al-Digair criticized the performance of the civil defense, and asked in a tweet: "where does the money of taxes and services' fees go, as long as the government doesn't use it in providing the taxpayers' basic needs?"

Digair was not the only one to criticize the authorities' performance in the fire matter. In his monthly letter released on Monday, the major dissident Sadiq al-Mahdi called the responsible parties to conduct a decent investigation, in which partake national parties, to uncover the real reasons behind the fire and calculate the losses. He also called for more support for the civil defense forces and the provision of firefighting tools in the market.

Activists on Sudanese social media pages expressed their empathy with the people who were affected by the fire, and strongly criticized the civil defense sluggishness in dealing with the incident.

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