The Rivers State Government-owned The Tide newspaper’s corporate head office at Mile One, Diobu, Port Harcourt, was in the early hours of yesterday razed, with ten new computers, office equipment, items of furniture and other valuables worth millions of naira razed.
The office of the newspaper’s General Manager, Celestine Ogolo, was completely burnt by the fire which started about 2 am, on the second floor of the two-storey building. Over ten airconditioners, refrigerators, ceiling fans and other office items were affected.
Besides the general manager’s office, the fire also affected the boardroom, where new sets of furniture had just been moved into; the office of the chairman of the board; audit, credit control and legal departments, as well as the general administration office.
The office of Rivers Fire Service is directly opposite the burnt building, but when the fire fighters arrived, they stood helplessly by the roadside for about 15 minutes, with their equipment unable to put out the raging fire.
It took the intervention of fire fighters from Total Oil Company, for the fire to easily be put out.
The Chairman of the Rivers State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr. Opaka Dokubo, declared that the state did not have effective and efficient fire service, even as he called on Rivers government to adequately equip the outfit, for better performance.
It was learnt that the water hose of Rivers government’s fire fighters could not get to the first floor of the building, with the firemen running around the expansive premises, without proffering any solution, until their counterparts from Total oil firm arrived, thereby preventing the entire building from being burnt.
It was also gathered that the Total fire fighters stood by the road side, a bit far from the building and effortlessly extended their hose to the last floor, which put an end to the conflagration.
By the time fire fighters from the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) in Port Harcourt got to the scene, Total firemen had completely put out the fire.
The Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Ibim Semenitari, and other top Rivers government officials later visited the scene and expressed shock over the incident.