…sector loses N500m in seven days
By Oluyinka Onigbinde
The Nigerian maritime sector has lost about N500million within the first seven days of year 2018 to uncontrolled fire outbreak. Last week, there was pandemonium at the popular Container Complex around the PTML terminal in Apapa, as fire broke out in one of the container-offices, razing 40 other offices in the complex
Earlier that same day, a similar fire outbreak happened at the popular NPA building, popularly known as National, around Tin Can Island Port Second Gate. The fire outbreak affected several offices, including two buildings belonging to the Seaview Properties Limited, a subsidiary of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA.
Also within that same week on Thursday at about 2 p.m., fire gutted the customs federal operations unit, zone ‘A’ annex warehouse where several cars and trucks were reported destroyed.
According to an eyewitness the popular Container Complex around the PTML terminal in Apapa when it was razed said about N150 million was lost to the inferno.
Also according to investigation about N300million worth of goods and properties were destroyed in the inferno that gutted the Federal Operating Unit zone A.
Reports on cause of fire and number of vehicles destroyed were shrouded in secrecy as the customs tried to downplay on cause and extent of damage.
Jerry Attah, PRO of the customs command, said that four “rickety vehicles” were involved in the inferno.
According to him “Yes, fire gut a section of our warehouse annex, which was called mechanical workshop. It is a place where some seized vehicles were warehoused.
“One of the trucks that was parked there over a long period of time, the gas cylinder attached to it, because of heat, exploded. It was the explosion that led to the fire. Fortunately enough for us, with the assistance of Lagos State Fire Service and LASEMA, the fire was put off on time.
“Two trucks and four vehicles were affected. The vehicles burnt were such used for smuggling turkey from the borders. They are long seized. They have been here for the past three years. They are rickety vehicles used for smuggling.
“The two trucks burnt came in here since last year. One of the trucks was even carrying 600 bags of smuggled rice. Because our warehouse was filled to the brim, so we kept the rice in the truck and cover it for safety.
“Some part of the rice was destroyed before the fire was put off. So as I speak to you, they are doing evacuation, sorting it out to know the quantity of rice that was damaged.”
However the General Manager of Lagos State Emergency Management Authority (LASEMA), Adesina Tiamiyu gave a different report on the issue as LASEMA claims the fire started from a burning bush within same warehouse the vehicles were parked
In his words “we received a distress call regarding fire outbreak at Nigerian Customs Service Office, Ikeja on Thursday 4th January, 2018 regarding the fire outbreak. This prompted the immediate activation of the Agency’s Response Team to the scene of incident, who arrived at the incident scene.
”On arrival at the scene of the incident, it was discovered that several vehicles (12 cars and 6 trucks) were gutted by fire.
“Further investigation carried out revealed that fire started due to bush burning activity within the axis the vehicles are parked.
Stakeholders in maritime industry have however called on the affected and other maritime Agencies to take caution especially during this harmattan period to avoid further fire outbreak that could lead to loss of lives and properties.