Officials said a CCTV camera, fire alarm and water sprinklers would now required 

The goods destroyed in a fire that razed the Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited’s (FCBL) warehouse in Samdrupjongkhar to the ground on August 9 was worth Nu 23 million (M) and not 100M as initially stated, FCBL officials said.

The stock comprised of rations for schools in six eastern dzongkhags worth Nu 8M and other goods worth Nu 15M. The goods destroyed by the fire also included rations for police.

FCBL’s regional manager in Samdrupjongkhar, Pema Wangchuk, said that ration supplies for the third quarter for schools was already dispatched from their head office in Phuentsholing and would reach Samdrupjongkhar today.

He said that since the supplies for lower Trashigang, Pemagatshel and Samdrupjongkhar have been lost to the fire, FCBL officials talked to the principals of the boarding schools in these dzongkhags. “We were informed that there are no ration problems at the schools and by today, the stock here will be replenished.”

Soon after the fire incident, Pema Wangchuk said that FCBL’s chief executive officer (CEO) instructed them to divert the stock immediately. “Once the ration supplies are here, we will stock it in one of the units of the auction yard and World Food Programme’s (WFP) warehouse.”

He added that the stock of ration for schools in upper Trashigang, Trashiyangtse, Mongar and Lhuentse have already been supplied to Khangma in Trashigang and Mongar depots. “We will assure that the schools are not affected by this incident.”

The school supplies include 47 metric tonnes (MT) of raw rice and 42MT of boiled rice, 37MT of lentil, 3MT chickpeas, 3MT sugar, 2MT salt, 269 cartons of milk powder, 730 cartons of cooking oil, 79 cartons of tea leaves and a carton of cheese.

The regional manager said that while they didn’t suspect arson as the fire started inside the warehouse, they are going to install closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera soon. “We already had the plan.”

He also said that it’s important to have a fire alarm and water sprinkler for such incidents. “Officials at the head office will conduct a management meeting regarding the security issues,” he said.

Engineers from the head office visited the warehouse and carried out measurement for the reconstruction.

The warehouse, with a capacity of 1,762MT, which was destroyed in the fire, was built in 1994. FCBL had insured both the warehouse and goods. “I cannot provide an accurate insured amount since the details are with the head office.”

FCBL officials suspect the fire to have started from an electric short circuit at the main switch.

Meanwhile, Samdrupjongkhar police say that although there was no foul play or suspected arson, they are carrying out a thorough investigation.

Kelzang Wangchuk |  Pemagatshel