We Lost N3Bn In Fire Outbreak

By Chibuzo Ukaibe, Abuja

President of the United Furniture Dealer’s Association of Nigeria, Prince Emeka Egwuekwe, yesterday disclosed that machines worth over three billion Naira was destroyed in the recent fire incident that engulfed the Kugbo furniture Market in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Egwuekwe who is also chairman Of Kugbo International Market Traders Association (KIMTA) however called on the federal government to assist the traders and the members of the association to rebuild their shops and damaged machines.

An early morning fire, last Sunday, razed the popular furniture market in the Kugbo area of Abuja, destroying goods and items worth several millions of Naira where destroyed by the incident. The same market was destroyed by fire in January last year.

Egwuekwe further called for the establishment of a fire station in the market to avoid a reoccurrence noting that over N3Billion was lost during the incident adding that machines and goods were destroyed in the inferno.

He thanked members of the Armed forces the army and the navy and the fire service for their timely intervention which nipped the fire outbreak noting without their support the entire furniture market with the timber shed would have been razed to the ground.

He called on the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the FCT administration to urgently come to their aid.

Egwuekwe who is also the managing director of Prince Interior Furniture and Furnishing Company Limited also used the opportunity to renew his call for the members of the association to be included in the Central Bank Of Nigeria (CBN) N50billion COVID-19 stimulus package for households and small businesses in the country.

The federal government recently released the guidelines to access the N75 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Survival Fund and Support Initiatives, which took effect from September 21, 2020.

The scheme, which is the core of the N2.3 trillion stimulus package of the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan includes the N60 billion MSMEs Survival Fund and the N15 billion Guaranteed offtake Schemes.

He stated that the furniture manufacturing industry lost over N600million during the COVID-19 lockdown noting that if care is not taken a lot of companies will shut down after the pandemic.

Egwuekwe while thanking the government for the inclusion of members of the association in the MSME programme stated that like Oliver Twist he is asking for more funding for members of the association as according to him “we are one of the worst hit by the COVID-19 as we have lost over N600million and needs the support from the government to kickstart our businesses.

He said the association having lost so much during the COVID-19 pandemic cannot bear another shock pointing out that if nothing urgent is done many of his members would be rendered jobless.