T&HD fire loss over $700M so far – Benn

Preliminary figures compiled by Transport and Harbours Department (T&HD) officials indicate more than $700M in losses from last Thursday’s fire, Minister of Transport and Hydraulics, Robeson Benn says.

He noted that the process is still ongoing and a final figure is still to be arrived at but the early figures show that more than $700M in items was destroyed. The fire early Thursday morning destroyed the T&HD storage bond on Urquhart Street, South Cummingsburg and severely damaged the neighbouring Mings Products and Services Limited boat building facility. Quick work by officials of the Fire Service, however, ensured that Mings’ main building and the office of Dr. Michelle Ming, an optometrist/optician, were not gutted.

Benn said that ship stores and engine spares like shafts and transmission parts for the ferries, the pilot launches and the dredge were lost. The minister told Stabroek News on Sunday that the loss of ships’ spares was the “biggest loss” pointing out that it was only a few weeks ago that items were delivered. In light of this big loss, they are focusing on ensuring that the ferry services are maintained, he had said.

He had said that he did not think the fire was electrical in origin and questioned yesterday on reports that it could have been arson, Benn said that they are hearing “all sorts of things” but the fire officials would have to pronounce on this.

Chief Fire Officer Marlon Gentle had told Stabroek News that the fire service received a call at around 1:10 am on Thursday and initially three fire tenders responded. Later, they were joined by three others and the officers performed valiantly and managed to save the Mings building. At the time, he said that while officials were yet to determine the cause of the fire, it started in the T&HD building.

One resident recalled that a loud explosion was heard shortly before 1 am and then the fire was spotted. The resident, who asked not to be named, said that fire ripped through the bond within minutes and as a result nothing could be saved. The resident said that the fire then spread to another T&HD building, before reaching Mings.

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