Friday, 3 October 2008
RADIO PHOENIX HAS BEEN GUTTED
A RAGING fire yesterday swept through the 13th floor of Zimco building, which houses part of popular Lusaka private FM station, Radio Phoenix.
The floor accommodated Radio Phoenix’s recording and accounts departments where the inferno destroyed broadcasting equipment including radio transmitters valued in millions of Kwacha.
Radio Phoenix has since been silenced and some of its operations are on the knees.
According to eyewitnesses, the fire started around 14:30 hours (12:30 GMT) and is believed to have been sparked by an electrical error.
But the fire department took its usual delays to arrive at the scene and by the time they got to Cairo road’s Zimco house, the fire had almost died out. The firemen looked clumsy when they got to Zimco house.
By 16:00 hours, the Lusaka City Council fire department was strengthened by their counterparts from the Zambia Air Force (ZAF) and this helped manage the inferno.
Proprietor Errol Hickey watched in disbelief as the fire continued to consume the firm. For Mr Hickey, this was not history repeating itself because Radio Phoenix was once gutted when it was located at Society House.
Mr Hickey could neither tell the extent of the damage nor could he tell the exact value of the loss, but said it was colossal.
Some of the items that were lost include recording studio equipment, cameras, computers and other apparatus.
It was impossible for the firemen to draw water from the inside hydrants because maintenance was for these facilities has not been done in a long time.
This forced the firemen to fetch water from elsewhere but the traffic jams in the Capital city worked well in blocking a good speed.
But as the fire continued with the damage at the top of Zimco house, business came to a standstill along the southern end of Cairo road where scores of curious on-lookers thronged the direction of Zimco House to catch a glimpse of the ‘drama’.
All the firms that operate at Zimco house were forced to halt operations and others were evacuated. These include Indo-Zambia bank and Ethiopian Airlines.
But most of the activity was authored by street boys who chanted party slogans and shouted “we want change”.
These political party supporters believed that the gutting of Radio Phoenix was a political gymnastic, which was sponsored by some political agents that want to block their leaders from speaking out on Radio Phoenix’s popular talk show ‘Let the People talk’.
Officers from the Lusaka central police were called to keep vigil at the scene as the youths continued to chant slogans.