A Scania Irisar bus travelling from Solwezi to Lusaka with 68 passengers on board has been gutted to ashes near Chindwin Barracks in Kabwe.
No death or serious injuries have been recorded.
Soldiers from Kohima and Chindwini Baracks were seen taking photos of the burning bus as civilians traied to salavage some property.
The bus registration number JD 2 belonging to Juldan motors is suspected to have developed a fault from the engine, which resulted into a fire.
One of the passengers Edward Kahare, aged 65 said he was seated in the rear seat and sensed that there was smoke fumes coming from under neath and then he informed the driver that the bus was burning.
“I smelt something, and I also saw smoke coming from under my seat, then i shouted to the driver , who immediately stopped at Chindwin barracks and that is how we started getting out of the bus, and then it was all in flames,” said Kahare.
By the time the Firemen from the Kabwe Fire brigade arrived, the bus had already been engulfed into flames and their labour could not yield any results as all the goods on the bus were burnt to ashes.
The bus got on fire at about 12:30 hours on Sunday and the fire brigade arrived about 30 minutes later.
When asked on the condition of the bus, driver Aron Chikwanda declined to comment but referred all queries to his boss in Lusaka, whose mobile phone was unreachable.
Police said they were going to study the matter and will issue a comment after thorough investigations.
Meanwhile local government and housing deputy minister Forie Tembo described the incidence as sad. Tembo who is in Kabwe to try and look at the problems including rampant fires facing the local authority said it was sad that people had continued to lose valuable properties through fire.
He disclosed that his ministry has sourced for fire tenders which will be procured from Japan and Kabwe because of it’s geographical location will benefit from the procurement.
“We have acquired fire tenders but besides the equipment we also need to improve on communication, we will need to engage the mobile service providers because emergency numbers on some networks are said to be hard to access,” said Tembo who was found at the scene of the fire together with Kabwe district commossioner Patrick Chishala.
But residents have bemoaned the ill preparedness of the fire brigade especially considering that Kabwe is along the Great North road which is very busy and used to transport different types of goods, including harzadous ones.
John Chanda who was at the scene when the fire started said the fire brigade arrived late on the scene, he also wondered whether both Kohima and Chindwin Barracks had no fire tenders.
“It is sad and very dangerous that a fire can start just in front of two big military institutions; don’t they have equipment to have come and help instead of just waiting for the fire brigade, this fire could have generated into something worse considering that this a military boundary,” said Chanda who could not specify the ‘dangerous’ aspect of the fire in the military boundary.
Chanda also complained about the soldiers who instead of rescuing the passengers but were busy taking pictures of the burning bus using mobile phones.
In the recent past Kabwe has experienced fires that have burnt a block of 8 flats in Highridge residential area and a government warehouse in the industrial area and district commissioner Patrick Chishala has always been crying for the equipping the local authority with a fire tender.
Chishala took the opportunity at the accident incidence to re-emphasise his call when he told Tembo that he fears that a lot of property will continue to be lost in fires that the fire brigade are not able to control.