Massive fire at Laparkan: “We are here, we are going to continue business” – manager

…says calamity will not deter company
…as Police, Fire Service, insurance companies’ probes continue

By Amar Persaud

General Manager at Laparkan Trading, Bodhan Nipan is assuring customers and other stakeholders that all efforts are being made to ensure business continues as normal following the devastating fire that destroyed millions of dollars’ worth of items stored in a bond at the Guyana National Industrial Company Incorporated (GNIC).
The fire erupted just before midnight on Sunday at the Lombard Street, Georgetown facility and destroyed a two-storey wooden, concrete and steel bond which was used by Tropical Shipping Company and Laparkan Trading Company.
The Guyana Fire Service (GFS), in a statement on the matter, said Tropical Shipping Company sustained water damage and minor fire damage. Additionally, propane cylinders, a quantity of barrels containing food stuff, clothing, household appliances and other items were destroyed.
On the other hand, the GFS noted that Laparkan Trading suffered the loss of one Bobcat machine, a quantity of office furniture, gas cylinders, crates of energy drinks, three 40 feet containers containing electrical cables and flex hoses, three electrical transformers and three 40 feet refrigeration containers. In addition, eleven vehicles were also destroyed while five were severely damaged and three others were slightly damaged.

Inventory & temporary bond
Contacted for an update on the company’s clean-up mission, Nipan explained that they have already secured a temporary bond while employees are working to deal with customers’ queries. He explained that workers are still in the process of stocktaking.
“Well actually from yesterday (Monday), we had a contingency plan put in place, so we placed a contingency plan whereby commercial customers can use the Princes Street entrance to access their cargo, we have the support of the customs office because the officials were here and we met with them briefly to be part of this contingency plan…,” he revealed.
“And we have another bond, it’s a bond that is controlled by GNIC, and we’ve asked them to use that temporarily as our storehouse until we have resolution to restore the existing bond that was demolished in the fire. So that bond yesterday (Monday) had commenced packing up, cleaning and sterilising, and so forth, we’re hoping at least by midday or 13:00h today (Tuesday) we can start actually destock the containers that were there with cargo for customers, mostly, of course would be commercial customers,” Nipan added.
“Remember we had incoming cargo, we had a couple of vessels that came between the 1st and 14th of January, then the fire occurred on the 16th, so we had couple of vessels that came in…we had cargo that was in the bond that were incoming cargo during that period and we had cargo that was there since in December, we had cargo that was also cleared but was not uplifted by the customer, we had cargo that was placed there and duties were not paid on it yet because the warehouse actually destroyed, it was a bonded warehouse.”
“Bonded warehouse means that the procedures or the standard operating procedures that has to be executed by the customs and the customs administration has not been fulfilled, which means like the payment of duties, examination of cargo, the basic stuff. So, it was placed in that warehouse which was actually diminished by the fire, so that was both under the care of customs and ourselves here.”
“So, in that warehouse now we had several cargoes, so what we’re doing right now is to do a final list to determine exactly which were the cargo that wasn’t taken out, which cargo was paid upon and wasn’t removed or which cargo was there and we’re trying to do that to get a netlist or a final list of the actual confinements that were destroyed in the fire.”
“So, we are working on that list. We should have that list ready pretty shortly because the staff has been working with it since yesterday morning, they would have commenced, based on my instructions of course.”

Regarding the vehicles which were destroyed, the Laparkan boss said some belonged to individuals while others were brought in by dealers.
“Some of them (the cars) pertain to dealership. Based on our physical inspection, we saw between 11 to 12 vehicles that were completely engulfed by the fire, which means that just the frame is left there, there were other carts that were scorched, some of individuals, some of belonging to companies or dealers. The fire could have caused some damages to some of the electrical components to different cars, we don’t know for sure, but physically, we saw some cars that were scorched, the paint was actually smeared, some the bumper actually melted,” he explained.

Insurance & compensation
Asked about the process of ensuring affected customers are compensated for their losses, Nipan explained that this will be a challenging undertaking.
“The company does have insurance policies and…we have to assess the situation first to get a comprehensive list of the persons (who are affected). Because some clients, what happens, they would insure their cargo upon shipment, and then some other clients would have not requested it.”
“We actually have meetings currently with the insurance companies, we’re meeting with the Police Force as well as the Guyana Fire Service, they’re keeping us informed…so, hopefully today, I’ll be able to assess what were the amount or what was the cost or who were the customers that were affected in particular, so that we can start to inform them,” Nipan explained.
“Once I have that list finalised, we would know what was confinement and we can come up with an estimate but that list has to be finalised first,” he added.
The Laparkan General Manager further explained that “apart from the customers themselves insuring the cargo, GNIC and Laparkan would have insurance for those facilities as well. So, it’s different policies around, but it’s the reach of their policy.”
“Some customers might take out policies for the car or the vehicle to simply reach in Guyana safe and that’s it. But then there are some that would take out policies to ensure that it reaches their doors safe, that’s till to their homes, which means during the course being here on the wharf and whatever, they are covered. Those are things we need to determine first before we can make a conclusion.”
“Once we have the results from the Police, from the Fire Service and from the insurance company, we will be better able to deliberate on that with regard to the customers.”

Once the investigations are completed, the company will work towards rebuilding. In the meantime, they are working to ensure business is not impeded.
“What we are doing, we have indicated to customers, some of the preliminary customers you would have knowledge that their cargo was destroyed and so forth, we have asked them to make their claims, we have a claim form of which the customer can prepare and have it to us,” Nipan explained.
“We are here, we are going to continue business as usual, we’re going to enhance our services in spite of this calamity. We want to reassure the customers that we’re doing everything on our part and in our efforts towards restoration, to normalcy, and improve our service delivery. The matter is currently being investigated by the external sources…and once that investigation is completed, we will be better able to inform the customers. But rest assured that something is happening, we’re making all valiant efforts to have [this] resolved.”