A fire incident has occurred at the NEXT supermarket in Abuja, the Nigerian capital.
The cause of the fire has yet to be ascertained at the time of this report as officials struggle to put out the fire.
The supermarket, one of the largest in the Nigerian capital, is located in the Kado area of the city.
Next is the second major supermarket in the FCT to be gutted by fire in the past six months. Prince Ebeano Supermarket was gutted by fire on July 17, losing goods worth millions of naira.
Counting his losses, one of the suppliers at the Kado supermarket, who identified himself as Godwin, said he had just supplied goods worth N4.5million.
“In this Next Cash and Carry, I’m the youngest supplier. I’m a supplier of Silver Crest. What is paining me is that I gave them my goods for January and February and they have not been signed.
“We all know that Next does not have products, MIT is just a warehouse where you bring your product. They sell for you and you give them a percentage. If you sell for them at N30,000, Next will sell at N35,000. They take N5,000, give you your N30,000.
“My goods that have not been signed worth over N4.5million. Where am I going to start from?” he told journalists at the scene.
Mr Godwin expressed his disappointment at the supermarket’s fire fighting truck which, he said, failed to work despite its routine servicing.
Another worker who asked not to be named confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that the fire started around 10 a.m. but got worse due to lack of water inside the supermarket’s fire firing truck.
He said the efforts of the workers to quench the fire before the arrival of professional firefighters were futile as the fire extinguishers in the supermarket were empty
In her account, the FCT Emergency Management Agency’s Director of Forecasting Response and Mitigation, Florence Wenegieme, said her team got the distress call around 9:45 a.m. and promptly swung into action.
She could not confirm the exact time the government-owned firefighting team arrived at the scene. However, witnesses told this newspaper that the firefighter arrived well over one hour after the fire started. They were still trying to quench the fire at the time of this report.
“We got the distress call at about 9:45 p.m. when the fire incident started. We can’t say the exact time.
“The FCT Emergency Management, being the coordinating agency, we were able to activate all our fire service stakeholders and they all responded.
“We thank God that there was no life lost, so far we can’t ascertain if anyone died or was injured,” Ms Wenegieme told journalists.
The Abuja Commissioner of Police, Babaji Sunday, arrived at the supermarket at exactly 1:54 p.m. to assess the situation.
He applauded the “rapid response” and efforts of police officers to prevent the looting of items in the supermarket.
Before the arrival of the commissioner, PREMIUM TIMES witnessed the arrest of five looters who scaled the fence into the building.
The five looters were nabbed inside the building while firefighters were still battling to quench the fire.
Some items were salvaged from the fire and have been put aside, while some others are believed to have been looted before the arrival of the police.
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