The fire at Next Cash and Carry, a famous commercial complex in Abuja, is an unquantifiable loss to the Federal Government, according to Sadiya Farouq, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development.
While surveying the devastation caused by the inferno during her visit to the mall on Wednesday, Farouq described the destruction as “catastrophic.”
She was quoted in a statement issued in Abuja by her media aide, Nneka Anibeze, as saying, “This is a very unfortunate incident. It is catastrophic and a loss not just to the management of this company but to the government and the country at large.
“Immediately the fire started, we deployed the National Emergency Management Agency NEMA together with other sister agencies to come and assist in rescue operations. As you can see, the extent of damage cannot be quantified.
“The government offers its deepest sympathy to the management and team of NEXT Cash and Carry and we will also come in as a government to see how we can support this organisation.”
Farouq thanked Nigerians for their support in trying to salvage some items and called for caution as more outbreaks would be expected in the harmattan season.
She said, “It is also critically important that an establishment like this or any other commercial or public building should put in place necessary arrangements to prevent disasters like this and also update their fire prevention drills.”
In his response, the General Manager of the mall, Neil Pape, rued the disaster and sought government’s support as the firm rebuilds the business premises.
He said, “The losses of the building are still under investigation and it is huge. As soon as we have the total amount lost and we get the records of all the stock in our business, we will give you feedback in a press release.
“This is devastating because it happened on Sunday. We have had all manner of high profile persons coming in to assist and see what happened. We will need the support of the government as we streamline plans to open a new store.”
Next Cash and Carry shopping mall in Abuja went up in flames on Sunday morning.