Arusha textile plant goes up in flames

A TEXTILE manufacturing plant owned by Sun-Flag Tanzania Limited which is based in Njiro, erupted in flames at night last Thursday.

The fire lasted several hours up to Friday morning. Sun-Flag, which has more than 3,000 workers at its Njiro plant, is one of two major employers in Arusha Region. The other one is A-to-Z also a textile entity operating in Kisongo area.

The Arusha Regional Police Commander (RPC), Mr Charles Mkumbo, has confirmed the incident saying there were no casualties from the fire, but regarding the loss caused from the incident, “it remains for the factory management to take stock of that,” he said.Njiro is a bustling industrial zone, where a number of factories based there usually operate day and night. Efforts to contact the Sun- Flag management proved futile.

“The manager is not in and is the only person who is allowed to issue a statement,” said an official who was found at the factory offices on Friday morning. He tried to call the ‘manager,’ but wouldn’t pick up the phone.

The Sun-Flag fire, which razed the property’s storage warehouses, precisely the siding which is used to store chemicals, at the Sun-Flag plant, caused trepidation across the area as many feared that the flames may spread to other factories nearby. Hundreds of Arusha residents thronged the factory enclosure as the hot flames raged on, many claiming that their relatives were locked inside the fence and were not allowed to come out despite the threatening fire. There was an oil well within the premises, which could further cause disaster.

Mama Mwanahamisi Rashid, is one of the residents who gathered at the factory, crying and saying her daughter in law was trapped inside the flaming factory and her phone was not accessible.

Mr Obadiah Chacha, one of the people who went around to the burning plant intending to help rescue workers trapped inside, said they were disappointed by the factory management; “they refused to open gates for workers to come out,” he said.

As far as he was concerned, the Asians who own the factory probably feared that people will go inside to steal.

That is why they rather let their gates remain locked. The Arusha Fire Brigade on the other hand, took its time; arriving at the scene an hour after the fire. It took mostly efforts from ordinary residents to put out the flames after they were finally allowed to do so when the police arrived.

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