OVER 12 hours of fire incident left property worth billions of naira destroyed in one of the subsidiaries of Sumal Group of Companies, on Town Planning Road, Oluyole Industrial Estate, Ibadan, Oyo State, on Monday.
The incident, the Nigerian Tribune authoritatively gathered, started around few minutes after 10.00p.m. on Sunday.
The affected company is situated on the former premises of Sanusi Steel Industry (SSI).
When the flame was first noticed, Nigerian Tribune gathered that people living around the neighbourhood assisted by putting calls through to some media houses and the Oyo State Fire Service for help, while security men on duty also alerted the appropriate quarters.
However, by Monday morning, the situation had gone bad. All the front offices of the production floor had gone up in flames, while combined forces of fire fighters from the state service and Sumal were seen battling with the inferno.
The whole neighbourhood was filled with particles which freely flew from the store area of the company’s premises.
By 8.00a.m., almost all members of staff had gathered on the premises of other subsidiaries to salvage the situation.
Some workers were directed to hurriedly remove some finished products at an open space, away from the scene of the incident.
Around the same time, four fire trucks, which content had been exhausted, were seen being refilled with water from Sumal tankers.
The entire warehouse, which rested by the side of a neighbouring gas company, at the left side of the company, was still burning. as of 12 noon.
Director of Fire Services, Oyo State, Mr Kareem Oyekunle, while speaking with the Nigerian Tribune, said they were on top of the situation, adding that with his over 40 officers, they had been able to keep the incident under control.
He promised that they would get over the disaster.
Though none of the senior staff members was ready to speak with journalists, some production workers, who pleaded anonymity, however, said the inferno had caused so much damage to the company.
One of them, who said he joined the company less than two months ago, lamented that the workers’ economy “is dead with this fire incident.’’
His words: “Bros, we don’t need to spare words, we are in economic mess. First, some of us who engaged in weekly, monthly contributions to solve some personal things are in soup. Who do I face during this period to give me their share of contribution?
“I came here to raise money for my business. This fire is much more than what you’re seeing. I can tell you that three printing machines, gum machines and a few others have gone. The only one remaining is the one from that side ‘production side.’ Even, that one is also burnt.
“Just go and see the other side, walls are already falling there. This warehouse you’re seeing was just loaded. You can see our Managing Director standing there without uttering a word. I am sure he knows better in value what is going up in flames here.”
Another worker stated that the disaster was a setback to all stakeholders in the company, “most importantly at this time of economic downturn.”
He said the disaster was not what anybody would have prayed for, saying “may God help us. This disaster has gone to the inner depth of our company. The only saving grace is the status of insurance, which only the owners can answer to.”