By Efa Sunday And Mary Omani
The owner and workers of Sammy’s Fashion complex along Ndidem Usang Iso road by Ekong Etta junction, broke down in tears in the late hours of Monday, August 13th, following an inferno which gutted down the fashion store and destroyed properties worth hundreds of thousands of naira.
According to the owner of the fashion complex, the fire which started at about 11:40pm on Monday night was ignited by a spark that occurred as a result of the high voltage supplied around Marian by the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company PHEDC.
Mrs. Manku Erima-CEO Sammy’s fashion, lamented that as at the time of the outbreak, Cross River State Fire Service was called but they declined coming, saying “they had no water to put out the fire.”
According to her, “When I called Fire Service, the one at Ndidem Usang Iso road said they had no water, and then we called the one at Mary Slessor, they said they were not going to come, then we called the one at airport, they said they needed to call Lagos to get permission before they can follow us.”
Meanwhile, the landlady of the complex, Mrs. Asa Henshaw has condemned the poor response of the Cross River Fire Service, saying that “although their nonchalant attitude cost citizens a lot but we are getting used to protecting ourselves.”
In her words, “Well, it is not a new thing. We are used to it. It is not only the fire service, the whole Nigeria is collapsing. This is not the first time the Fire Service is doing this, and nobody is doing anything about it. This is not the first or second time and definitely won’t be the last time. It has always been like that.”
In the course of this report, CrossRiverWatch spoke with the Assistant Director, Cross River State Fire Service, Public Relations Officer, Mr. Makperr Cletus Abine who ascribed their inability to respond, to poor government funding for the provision and maintenance of facilities, to aid in the proper discharge of their duties.
Mr. Abine, bemoaned the State of the service, urging the government to come to their rescue by adequately funding the office in order for them to run effectively.
He concluded by admonishing everyone to inculcate the habit of ‘safety first’, by putting off all electrical appliances when not in use and to also own a fire extinguisher that can help remedy the situation in case of fire outbreak.
No life was lost in the incident which went unabated for hours.
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