A Fire at the tobacco plant in Taiz  How A small Ignition Could Cause A HORRIBLE CATASTROPHE [Archives:1999/36/Business & Economy]

September 6 1999

Imad Al-Saqqaf — 
Farouq Al-Kamali 
Yemen Times, Taiz 
In May and July of this year, many fires in the city of Taiz took place. One of these fires devoured Osama stationery in the city. The other was in a grocery in AL-Salkhana, and there were so many other fires caused by an electrical wire short circuit. As Yemen Times Taiz Bureau Chief Editor, I had dealt with this matter in a previous issue of Yemen Times explaining that the infrastructure of our electricity structure in Taiz as too weak and need to be reorganized and restructured. I talked about the reasons behind these fires and the negligence of the Electricity Administration Corporation in Taiz. On Tuesday morning, August 31, 99 marked yet another evidence of this need. While I was in a mission to sign some contracts with the Rothmans Cigarette Factory administration, specifically with the Manager of the United Company for Industries, Mr. Mohammed Abdulwadood Tarish, the fire broke out in the Factory. This fire started with an electrical short circuit in the room next to the GM’s office and ended in a horrible catastrophe & big costs. 
The sources say that the reason of this fire was the friction that took place between two loose unshielded electrical wires. The fire began in the staff room and then spread with the help of the air that came out of the fan into the wooden ceiling. The workers tried to extinguish the fire but they could not. Mr. Mohammed Tarish, rushed quickly to the gate to inform the security. As he returned back, he found his office eaten by the fire. The fire then, spread into the stores, which are full of tobacco, boxes and aches. 
The workers escaped out of the factory as soon as they saw fire eating away everything, even the machines in the stores. The smoke poisoned some of the workers and some were slightly injured. Extensive call were made to the airport firemen to extinguish the fire. The firemen did not take this seriously, and they arrived late to the destination. As soon as they arrived, they hopelessly tried to put out the angry flames. However, it was tool little and too late. The firemen interestingly alleged that they did not receive official instructions, and without the instructions they cannot do anything. 
The fire has began at eleven O’clock in the morning and ended at Seven O’clock in the evening. The firemen came very late with the presence of the policemen, governor, Hail Saeed Members Group and the workers at the factory. 
Yemen Times was the first newspaper that arrived to the burning site. There we met with the Staff Security of Taiz and a number of Hayel Saeed Group members. They all pointed out that an electricity fault and not an explosion caused the fire. They partially blamed the administration for its negligence. 
They all were bemoaned about the factory, which has turned into ashes. The workers and the employees found their future burnt with the factory. Mr. Mohmmed Tarish, the manager of the United Company and Rothmans Factory was very astonished for what was happening. He still could not recover from the shock. It was really a catastrophe. The factory, which was founded and established by Mr. Tarish, turns to be a pile of ashes in no time. 
Yemen Times was presented in the incidence place. We stayed there about eight hours. We have taken a number of photographs and met with policemen and Hayel Saeed Group members. Later in the day, we met with a member of Hayel Saeed Group, who indicated that the cost of the loss is approximately USD 25,000,000. He said: “the total costs of the factory are approximately $25.000000. The workers and the employees are about 250”. 
He also added, “we are not the only losers, but there are the injured, and the workers families who will suffer a lot because of the catastrophe. But the biggest loser is the Government, which receives about YR400,000,000 as taxes on a monthly basis.”As we asked him if an explosion caused the incidence, he said “I have just received a telephone call from Mr. Abdulaziz Abdulghani, the Chairman of the Consultative Council, questioning about this allegation, but they are not true. Unfortunately, it was because of the negligence of the Management in upgrading and maintaining the electricity network in the factory.” 
We asked him if the costs would stop at this level, he responded “of course not! There are hundreds of workers and employees who found themselves without work in minutes.”The most dangerous problem here is that if we don’t act fast and import Rothmans branded cigarettes, the Yemeni market will be full of smuggled Rothmans products. Without doubt, this will add another problem to our economy. 
The member of Hayel Saeed Group stated that he and others think that the loss is very big for the Hayel Group. However, he also indicated that this does not mean that the activities of the other factories would need to stop. The group’s strength is much beyond any such possibilities. It only means that the group will need extra money and time to re-build the factory, which will take at least a year. 
However, there is yet good news about this incident. The factory was insured and will receive full compensation for the loss in money, time, and even salaries of the workers will be paid by the insuring company. “We are yet lucky that we made our precautions and insured our company in all aspects” Mentioned Abdulwas’i Hayel Saeed, one of the Groups prominent members. 
It is quite sad for such a group with excellent reputation to have such a loss. It is well known that the group founded charitable projects, schools, mosques and hospitals. No one in the whole country wants such a group to lose anything because of their good deed s and charitable hands to all Yemenis. This Group is the most generous Group, which supports the needy in the Yemeni society. This incident will never alter the stature of the group’s founder, Hayel Saeed Ana’am will stay alive in the hearts of the Millions who are benefiting from him till today.