A fire broke out on Saturday evening at the large market in Bouaké (center), the second city of Côte d’Ivoire, which had already been devastated by fire on August 27.
The fire started around 7:00 p.m. (local and GMT) at the wood market, and then spread to other areas of the market, which covers more than eight hectares, said store manager Katile Allaye. « The damage is enormous, » he said.
At 10:30 p.m., firefighters were still in action to fully contain the largely-controlled fire.
Many traders, who flocked in disaster to the fire, continued to empty their stores of their merchandise.
The origin of the fire is unknown and no immediate assessment can be made, said the mayor of Bouaké Nicolas Djibo, present at the scene. « I will demand a full investigation tomorrow morning, » he said.
The large Bouaké market, which has hundreds of shops, is the main center of activity in this city of one million inhabitants. Authorities helped traders rebuild their shops after the August fire.
This market, which had already burned down for the first time in 1998, had not been rebuilt and had been replaced by small shops in juxtaposed boxes.
A project to rebuild a modern market has just been launched with the help of France.
French President Emmanuel Macron went to Bouaké on December 22 with his Ivorian counterpart Alassane Ouattara to lay the foundation stone for a new complex capable of accommodating 8,500 traders on nearly 9 hectares.
This 60 million euro project, funded by France, is to make it the largest covered market in West Africa.
The Ivorian and French authorities hope that this infrastructure will revive the once flourishing economic activity and make it possible to forget the past of Bouaké, a barracks town regularly shaken by mutinies or rebellions by soldiers.