NAN – A building housing the Rivers State Newspaper Corporation, publishers of Tide Newspaper, was on Friday gutted by fire.
The state’s Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, told the News Agency of Nigeria in Port Harcourt that the inferno destroyed the top floor of the building.
She said Governor Chibuike Amaechi had directed experts from the state Ministries of Works and Housing to evaluate the extent of the damage.
Semenitari said the outcome of the evaluation would determine the appropriate action to be taken on the affected floor and that in the interim, staff would be given a temporary office.
“It will be very important that government does that. I have briefed his Excellency the Governor of Rivers state who has directed that the commissioners for works and housing look at the building so that we can begin even with the evaluation of the integrity of the building.
“I have briefed the honorable commissioner for Special Duties whose men were here to work alongside men of the Total fire service to put out the fire.
“And, I believe that when you have these kinds of things the first things that happens, of course, is that you find out the cause of fire.
“We are not competent to do so, either at the ministry of information or at the Tide.
“We will expect that those who have the capacity and the men to do so will do so,” Semenitari said.
She added that no life was lost but that vital documents were lost.
Also speaking, Acting Chairman of the Rivers House of Assembly Committee on Information, Mr. Golden Chioma, described the incident as a big loss to the state.
He said the need to maintain infrastructure was a lesson to be learnt from the incident.
“It is a calamity. It’s a very big calamity and I think that the state has lost so much.
“The most important thing to learn from this fire is that we must put money on maintenance. The infrastructure that are provided must be maintained and we must invest in fire service.
“The fire service is moribund right now. This fire happened opposite the fire service of the state, directly opposite the Nigerian Tide is the fire service station,” he said.
Chioma said efforts should be made to reposition the State Fire Service, through the provision of funds, acquisition of new fire fighting vehicles and training of personnel.
The General Manager of the newspaper corporation, Mr. Celestine Ogolo, said the fire began at about 2a.m. on Friday.
He said the fire consumed the entire top floor housing the general manager’s office.
“Well, it consumed the entire left wing of the second floor housing the general manager’s office , the credit control unit, the administration general office, the board room and a few other offices that are close by.
“A lot was lost, you know. We bought new sets of computer sets which were to replace others in the computer room, we lost all that.
“We bought new sets of chairs that we just bought; we are yet to complete payment for these chairs.
“A lot of furniture, a lot of documents, a lot of very very important documents. Some had their original documents destroyed because they were also trying to fine tune their papers for retirement .
“So, original documents have been lost. A lot have been lost to this inferno,” he explained.
He said that in spite of the inferno, the staff of the corporation were working hard to ensure that they produce the next edition of the Tide newspaper.