By Ade King Ebimomi
And so I took a drive down to the fire-ravaged Next Cash & Carry in Abuja yesterday evening Dec 26, 2021.
And I got another confirmation that inefficiency and lax attitude to work isn’t the exclusive preserve of the Nigerian Civil Service.
A few months back, just immediately after the conflagration that razed down another retail giant, the Ebeano Supermarket, the management of Next Cash & Carry apparently purchased and conspicuously parked a fire truck right within its premises.
Smart move. Let not what befell my competitor repeat itself here.
I’m not sure if that move was insisted upon by their insurer, aware that a fire incidence could happen at any time and an operative fire truck would be there to put it out.
If the fire truck was an insurance requirement, Next Cash & Carry may have to cough out the cost of the total and extensive damage brought about by the conflagration.
Because on the day that the fire truck was needed, it became totally useless.
First, they could not find the key to the fire engine.
Two, there was no hydrant whatsoever in the fire engine.
Its tank disappointingly empty of any fire-fighting item.
And so the fire raged, unmolested, unimpeded.
Only stopping when there was nothing for it to consume again.
And that would even be after I had left the scene.
For right inside the once-intimadating edifice, pockets of flame still burn away, apparently elated and feeling majestic at the ease with which they burnt through billions of naira supplies and structure, unchallenged.
Just look at the caption picture, that I took more than 30 hours after the very unfortunate fire started.
So the management of Next Cash & Carry didn’t know that a team of 2 or 3 professional men were supposed to be saddled with the responsibilty of making certain that the fire engine they had acquired, was in top operating mode, serviceable and ready to do it’s duty?
And why, in these modern times, would you build a giant retail store and not install a sprinkler system, the sort that automatically start showering everything at the whiff of smoke?
And my benevolent information source, a worker still in his uniform, stated that the ceiling material was melting and dripping its hot material, preventing first responders from even going into the building to salvage more good.
So a non-fire retardant ceiling was used in the construction of a modern buiding, one that was verily open to the risk of fire?
If these missteps had happened in the civil service, we would understand.
Shebi it’s their thing.
But in a private corporate-owned building?
Much more is expected.
And, quite sadly, it doesn’t appear this would serve as a lesson to other private set-ups.
If Next Cash & Carry – a company allegedly owned by Peter Obi, one of Nigeria’s smartest businessman-politician – couldn’t learn anything from the Ebeano unfortunate incident, what is the probability that others would? If they can cut corners with their own businesses, just imagine what they will and do with that of the government’s.
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