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Relocating our factory outside Nigeria has been reinforced by fire outbreak – Agbede, Erisco GM


President of Erisco Foods Limited, Chief Eric Umeofia

President of Erisco Foods Limited, Chief Eric Umeofia

The recent fire outbreak that engulfed a warehouse belonging to Erisco Foods Limited, destroying raw materials worth over four hundred and fifty million naira has reinforced the resolve of Erisco Foods limited to relocate its factory outside Nigeria, according to the General Manager, Mr. Tokunbo Agbede.

Mr. Tokumbo Agbede, said this while briefing newsmen on Tuesday said it took the timely intervention of officials of the Lagos Fire Service to put off the fire and stop it from razing down the entire warehouse. Journalists were later conducted round the warehouse where it was discovered that the fire had razed down two sections of the warehouse containing stocks of dried tomatoes which serves as the major raw material used in the processing of tomato paste. Erisco operates the first of its kind factory where fresh and dried tomatoes bought from farmers are converted into tomato paste.

Recall that erisco Foods Limited, the largest tomato processing factory in the country and the fourth largest in the world has commenced the gradual winding down and relocation of their factory outside the country due to alleged frustrations by some of the regulatory agencies.

Agbede said the Police and Lagos State Fire Service have begun investigations into the remote cause of the fire outbreak even as he did not rule out sabotage entirely. “Whether it is sabotage or not, we don’t know the cause yet, but we have to wait for the final report from the Police and Fire Service before we can be certain,” he added. A warehouse staff said it would be the first time in the company’s history that such volume of dried stock would be left to lie fallow for more than six months.

“We don’t usually keep raw materials for more than a month before taking them to the factory to process,” he said.

Agbede admitted to journalists that the goods had overstayed but he heaped the blame on the CBN for not allocating the requisite FOREX to the company to import other raw materials that could have aided in the utilisation of the dried tomatoes for the processing of tomato paste. “Why would we keep feedstock or raw materials worth billions of naira in a warehouse instead of processing them if things were working as we planned?” he queried. “What has happened has reinforced our resolve to relocate the manufacturing aspect of the business outside Nigeria. We just thank God that no live was lost,” he concluded.

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