According to Sadiya Farouq, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, the fire disaster at the prominent commercial complex known as Next Cash and Carry in Abuja is an unquantifiable loss to the Federal Government.
During a visit to the mall on Wednesday, Farouq described the facility’s 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 assistance in attempting to recover some goods, but warned that further outbreaks are likely during 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.”
Neil Pape, the mall’s General Manager, expressed regret for the disaster and requested government assistance as the company rebuilds its facilities.
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.”
On Sunday morning, the Next Cash and Carry shopping complex in Abuja caught fire.