Poor wiring and use of substandard electric cables is the major cause of fire outbreaks in the country, according to the Minister for Internal Security, Musa Fazil Harelimana.
Harelimana said an audit into the fires that have occurred in the country since 2011 indicates that 61 per cent of these infernos were due to short circuits.
He was speaking during a televised talk show that he jointly addressed with the Minister for Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs, Sarafina Mukantabana, and other senior officials from Rwanda National Police and the City of Kigali yesterday.
The event was held at the Prime Minister’s office in Kimihurura, Gasabo District.
Figures from the Ministry indicate that since January this year, 47 cases of fire outbreaks have been reported, a figure the minister says is way lower compared to the previous years.
“In 2011 there were 84 cases; in 2013 the figure went up to 93 while last year 77 cases of fire outbreaks were reported. This trend shows that there is no need for panic. About 61 per cent of those fires were a result of electric short circuits caused by poor wiring or substandard cables,” Harelimana said.
He said besides short circuits, other causes were identified as intended arson, and negligence.
No link to terrorism
Harelimana termed claims that fire outbreaks could be linked to terror acts as rumours whose intention is to cause panic among Rwandans.
Preliminary police investigations indicate that the fire that gutted several structures across the country over the past two months were caused by either electric short circuits or negligence on the side of the people running those structures.
“Rumours will always be there but the truth about these fires is detailed in the figures indicating what causes these fires,” Harelimana said.
Of the fires that have engulfed the country in the recent past, the one of Ruvavu Prison that claimed at least five lives remains the most fatal.
The Rubavu fire happened just a couple of days after another fire gutted Muhanga Prison but no life was lost in the latter incident.
A string of other fire outbreaks have been reported in the capital, Kigali and merchandise valued at hundreds of millions has been lost.
Harelimana said: “In a situation where you have terrorist groups like the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and Rwanda National Congress (RNC) whose intention is to destroy the country, there is need to be extra cautious.”
He, however, added that preliminary investigations show no link to these terror groups.
Police’s Commissioner for Investigations Theos Badege, said: “Although investigations are still ongoing, the leads we are getting indicate that much of the causes are connected to negligence on the side of owners of buildings.
Following the spate of fires across the country, government moved fast to put in place regulations on fire control.
The instructions, issued by the Prime Minister, were published in the Official Gazette last week.
The new instructions cover public places, national parks, forests, and storage facilities. They also cover transportation and use of inflammable materials in the country.
A taskforce comprising Rwanda National Police (RNP), Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA), Rwanda Housing Authority and the Ministry of Infrastructure (Minifra) was also formed to investigate the fires.Follow https://twitter.com/EdwinMusoni