ZIMRA Warehouse Gutted By Fire The 3rd Time

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Property worth thousands of dollars was destroyed when the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) warehouse at Beitbridge Border Post caught fire early yesterday morning.

The incident occurred at around 5am.

Border authorities said yesterday that the cause of the fire was yet to be established. The building was not damaged.

They said mainly diapers and blankets, among other assorted items, which were in the anti-smuggling State warehouse near the northern exit gate were destroyed.

“We suspected the fire was a result of electrical fault or poor ventilation in the room.

“A security official who was patrolling near the area smelt some smoke coming from the building and went to investigate.

“He then summoned other stakeholders who called in the disaster response team and the fire was contained,” said one official.

The source said they managed to remove most of the blankets and goods which were inside.

The value of the destroyed goods is yet to be established.

It is understood that officials from the Ports Health Department took some samples of the debris to verify if the fire was a result of any chemical reaction since the warehouse is poorly ventilated.

Under the country’s customs laws, goods seized from exporters or importers for non-compliance or those pending payment of duty are kept in the State warehouses.

Zimra’s head of communications, Mr Canisio Mudzimu, was not answering his mobile phone yesterday. The Police Officer Commanding Beitbridge district, Chief Superintendent Francis Phiri, said the cause of fire was still under investigation.

“We have called in electricians from the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority to look into the issue.

“We will know the exact cause of the fire in due course,” he said.

The incident comes a few months after another State warehouse was in July looted and burnt by hoodlums calling themselves Combined Beitbridge Residents’ Association.

The thugs were demonstrating against the implementation of Statutory Instrument 64, which removed specified goods from the Open General Import Licence (OGIL).

Police arrested 71 people in connection with the arson in which 35 cars were burnt. In November 2014 property worth millions of dollars was burnt when the main Zimra warehouse caught fire under unclear circumstances.

Though a crack team was set up by the revenue authority to look into the matter, the findings are yet to be made public. – state media

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