Fire guts Zimra Beitbridge warehouse

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PROPERTY worth thousands of dollars was destroyed when a Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) warehouse caught fire yesterday at Beitbridge Border Post.

A fire tender and Zimra personnel outside the warehouse which caught fire in Beitbridge yesterday

A fire tender and Zimra personnel outside the warehouse which caught fire in Beitbridge yesterday

The incident occurred at around 5AM.

Border authorities yesterday said the cause of the fire was yet to be established but, however, said the building was not damaged.

They said disposable diapers and blankets were among an assortment of goods, which were in the anti-smuggling State Warehouse near the northern exit gate.

“We suspect the fire was a result of an electrical fault or poor ventilation.

“A security official who was patrolling near the area saw some smoke coming from the building and went to investigate. He summoned other stakeholders who called the disaster response team and the fire was contained,” said an official.

Travellers were among the people that assisted in putting out the fire.

The source said the disaster response team and members of the public managed to salvage some of the blankets and goods.

Officials from the Ports Health Department took samples of the debris to verify if the fire was a result of a 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 officer commanding Beitbridge district, Chief Superintendent Francis Phiri said police were still investigating the cause of the fire.

“We’ve 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).

A total of 71 people were arrested in connection with the incident which resulted in 35 cars in and around the State Warehouse being burnt.

In November 2014 property worth millions of dollars went up in flames when the main Zimra Warehouse caught fire under unclear circumstances.

Though the revenue authority set up a crack team to look into the matter, results are yet to be released.

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