JINJA – Kakira Sugar Limited has allayed public concerns over the possibility of the price of sugar going up with the smoke that engulfed its main stores on Friday evening.
A massive fire that started at around 8pm destroyed a two-floor building housing the Supplies Department, the general stores of the sugar producers from Jinja. The stores was not for sugar, the directors of the company clarified, but general supplies that go into the day-to-day running of the company as well as the sugar mill itself.
“Management assures the general public, our farmers and all other individuals concerned that the operations at Kakira will continue, as well as production of sugar and all other Kakira products,” said Mr Jim Kabeho, a director at Muljibhai Madhvani and Company Limited.
Mr Kabeho was speaking at a news briefing at Kakira alongside Joint Managing Directors Mayur and Kamlesh Madhvani, as well as Kakira Sugar Ltd general manager Christian Vincke.
The directors did not field questions as they were off to other meetings and merely gave indication that all was well, leaving the extent of the losses incurred in the fire a subject of speculation although Mr Mayur did admit it “will be in tens of billions” of shillings.
Mr Mayur extended his gratitude to the many well wishers who were sending messages of support and specifically thanked the fire fighters from Iganga, Jinja City as well as the Red Cross team and other agencies for all the efforts they put in to ensure that the fire did not escalate or lead to a tragedy.
“By grace of God, we did not lose any lives, not even any injuries,” he said.
“As for production and everything is concerned, is normal in Kakira, we have seen cooperation, where different parts of Busoga come together to assist the big mother of Kakira… We have various separate stores, like in agriculture, factory and others.”
The Supplies Department was the main stores that housed virtually every utility procured for running not only the factory such as spare parts and electrical equipment, but also basic commodities for offices and every single section in Kakira.
In a statement, ASP James Mubi, Kiira regional police spokesperson, said items like spare parts for the motorcycles, vehicles, stationary items, posho, fridges, etc were burnt to ashes.
The fire lasted several hours despite combined efforts from firefighters from Iganga and Jinja City police as well as Nytil and Agro Industries Limited backing up those from Kakira.
“The fire destroyed the Kakira General Supply Stores, where critical supplies are stored for the manufacturing of sugar and downstream products at Kakira,” the state ment reads in part.
“These include mechanical and electrical spares for the day-to-day running of the large fleet of tractors and vehicles at the Kakira Estate.”
This was the first such major fire incident in Kakira since the company resumed operations in the post-instability era in 1986, perhaps explaining why it took so long to contain. By 11pm Friday evening, as many as 10 fire trucks were engaging in battling the blaze.
This newspaper was on the ground and could see that the fire fighters had changed their effort from putting out the fire to salvage property to preventing the spread on other structures, notably the fuel station just 10metres away.
By Saturday morning, several fire trucks were still stationed at the scene as security manned the premises and kept sending onlookers away while Kakira’s fire trucks continued to do rounds with water.
The directors said the cause of the fire was still being investigated.