After losing close to $150million in a fire which destroyed four warehouses on Monday, managing director of JMH Enterprises, Christopher James, said that his company which supplies several of the nations groceries with goods, will be back in operation within a matter of weeks.
In a conversation with Newsday yesterday, James who was at the time surveying damages with an insurance agent, said while the majority of his equipment and goods were destroyed, he was in contact with several people who are trying their best to help. Newsday was told that the company’s warehouse would be relocated, and that he is now in the process of looking for a warehouse to rent, with the assistance of close friends. Newsday was also told the goods that had not left port will be stored in the new warehouse.
The 45 displaced staff will also be looked after within the next few weeks. Management and staff had a meeting yesterday to discuss what could be done in the aftermath of the fire. The staff agreed to hold on for the time being, and when stocks are brought in from the docks, help would be needed to restock the warehouse.
While there is still goods on the docks, much has to be done before JMH could be operational again. James told Newsday that all his transporting trucks had been destroyed in the fire, and would have to be replaced. Many other vehicles used for transporting and toting the goods, like forklifts, will also need to be replaced.
At about 8.30 pm on Sunday night, James got a call from a fellow tenant at the Trincity Industrial Estate, saying that he had noticed smoke coming from one of his warehouses, and he had alerted the fire department.
When James got to the site of the blaze, one of the warehouses had already been consumed by fire. The fire spread to four warehouses, destroying stockpiles of rice, sugar, oil and saltfish. Counter tops and other kitchen appliances were also destroyed in the fire.
Newsday was told JMH Enterprises supplies the nation’s groceries with a little less than half its supply of rice.
While distributors had taken goods from the warehouses last Friday in anticipation of the long weekend, the loss of the supply of rice would have an effect on the nation’s grocery shelves, according to James, but speaking to Dr Yunus Ibrahim of the Supermarket Association, Newsday was told that the nation will still have a steady supply of rice coming into the country.
Ibrahim confirmed that JMH does, in fact supply the nation with about 40 percent of its rice, but added that there were seven other rice distributors in the country, which include NFM Rainbow Caribe Naisa Happi Oldmac and Eve. After a meeting held by the association, Ibrahim told Newsday that at least one of the seven companies has already promised to increase their orders for rice, to accommodate for the shortage. Groceries who depend on JMH for their rice will have to reach out to other companies to make bigger orders.
“We are aware that it is a market that would be in demand, especially now with the Divali holiday coming up, but the shortage that we would experience will only be minor.” Ibrahim said.