Fire razes multi-billion Naira Devos carpet factory, in Export Promotion Zone, Cross River


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A mysterious fire has burnt multi-billion Naira Jackson Devos factory, the producers of crown carpet at the Calabar Free trade zone of the Nigeria Export Promotion Zone Authority, (NEPZA) in Calabar, Cross River.

The smouldering inferno according to an eyewitness started at about 10 am in the morning behind the building which housed the company’s newest factory specially designed to produce modern rugs to complement the wall to wall carpet factory.

The factory, a prefabricated building imported from Belgium because of its unique features which engineers who spoke with newsmen but pleaded for anonymity said is totally worthless, it’s valued at about 600,000 dollars besides the six machines completely burnt to ashes.

Another staff of the firm who lamented the inferno and the destruction caused said she was not an official spokesperson for the company but recounted how
She was shocked to see the building burnt in the hellhole.

“I went to work at about 9 am, performed my normal checks. But while I was settling down, I heard the security man shouting for help. When we rushed out, we saw smoke behind the building. Nobody knew what was going on.

“Frightened, we contacted the fire service at the zone immediately while others put calls through to the city fire service and any other organization like Nigeria Port Authorities in the zone and our immediate neighbouring companies for help.

“Electricity had not been reconnected to the building. We only open the door daily for fresh air,” she said explaining that, by the time the fire fighters arrived they were overpowered by the fierce inferno and had to call for backups as the water from the first tank was exhausted yet the flames were rising steadily.

“When other workers in the adjoining companies arrived they joined the fire service men to battle the blaze” She further recounted that before the fire was put off finally, a colossal damage has been done leaving the factory in ruin.

Jackson Devos carpet factory has been one of the reliable textile industries in Nigeria employing hundreds of staff across the country until in 1980s when the NDIC took over the property with view to recovering a loan allegedly owned by the company.

While the NDIC were in charge of the company, several of its machines were purportedly vandalized which stalled its operation for years, the case is still lingering in court.

A consultant to the company, Mr Sammy Etuk who responded to a text message mentioned machines destroyed by the fire outbreak to include Heavy-woven machine, cut pile producing machine, wall to wall over edging machine, wall to wall carpet shearing machine, mats and centre rug over edging machine as well as different types of materials.

Consequently, a former staff of the company, Mr. Emmanuel Utin told newsmen that the machines vandalized then were the live wire of the company which prompted the institution of a court action to ensure recovery.

“We lost our jobs during the period and effort to resume full operation never yielded any fruit as money required runs into millions of naira, hence it took the company almost 10 years to restructure operations with a view to resuming the over edging section with plans to produce centre rugs, door mats and other allied products,” Utin explained.

He said he was devastated to hear of the fire incident explaining that Jackson Devos has been a very respected indigenous carpet company over the years and would continue to be revered by both ex-staff and customers.

TRIBUNEPOINT WEEKLY findings revealed that there has been incessant break-in by hoodlums, who opened part of the wall behind the factory B, where they use as thoroughfare to enter the premises and steal in recent times since the company down tools few years back before the recent effort to commence skeletal service ahead of the commencement of work.

Interestingly, investigations about the mysterious fire has commenced as officials of the company said that NEPZA was interested to know the cause of the fire.

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