– De Hoop farmer estimates $50M in losses
By Rabindra Rooplall
A farmer storing his paddy and bulk rice for the Venezuelan market watched as fire razed a section of his storage
bond almost destroying the entire $200M facility at De Hoop, Mahaica, East Coast Demerara yesterday.
Proprietor of D. Sukhlall Rice Industry, Deonarine Sukhlall, estimated his losses at approximately $50M as he lamented to this publication of his obligations to the bank. The fire of unknown origin is being investigated.
According to the businessman, he received a telephone call from his neighbour in the wee hours of yesterday morning informing him that his bond was ablaze.
“The neighbour call we at about 2:15 and say ‘fire! fire!’. I then tell my wife call for the fire truck in Mahaica. A lot of neighbours start coming out with their garden pumps. And we start to soak the building while we waiting on the fire truck,” Sukhlall recounted.
“After about half an hour the fire truck reach, when they reach I tell them run to the back with the hose because the fire was coming over to the other building with the processing facility, then I hear they say they nah got water. Then we open the koker for water, then when the fire reel start, it only last for ten minutes and done, it didn’t work back.”
The businessman, who also has a milling facility in Berbice, explained that a call was made for another fire engine from Berbice.
“When that one come it work properly, and we started to soak the building that attach to the bond because the fire already started going over to the next section where the generator was destroyed and a whole container of rice and paddy separate from the bond.”
“If the first fire truck had come and worked properly I could have saved more along with the help of neighbours with their garden pumps.”
When asked if his business was insured, the rice farmer said the amount insured is meagre compared to the damage caused.
“Is nuff people and neighbours come out to help this man with the fire. Imagine the
first fire engine that come bruck down; they could have stopped so much damage to the man building and bond if their fire engine worked properly,” a neighbour told this publication
Sukhlall who has been a rice farmer for almost 30 years noted that the bond contained 8,000 bags of paddy and over 2,000 bags of rice which were destroyed with the structure. A 40-foot container which had packed tonne sacks was also destroyed.
Reflecting that three years ago he experienced a small fire in his dryers, Sukhlall said he has no idea what caused yesterday’s conflagration.
“For the last two weeks there were no workers in the bond so it can’t be any accident with workers. Right now we are in the fields planting,” he explained.
Sukhlall said he plants over 750 acres of rice.
Meanwhile, Kaieteur News understands that Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy has requested a report on the damage to the facility.
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