Cotton worth $2.5 million gutted by fire at Cottco

Main Story Zimbabwe

Sharon Munjenjema

A total of 221,000 kilogrammes of cotton lint was this morning gutted by fire at the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe Limited (Cottco) Checheche Growth Point depot in Chegutu South.

The cotton lint which had an estimated value of US$2.5 million was ready for export.

In a statement, Cottco’s Managing Director Mr Pious Manamike confirmed the details.

“The fire was detected by a truck driver near the ginnery who immediately alerted the guards and management.

“Preliminary assessment indicates that the Company has lost about 1 221 000 kg of cotton lint that was ready for export with an estimated value of US$2 500 000. A forklift was also lost in the inferno,” read the statement.

Fire fighters from Green Fuels and Hippo Valley were called to extinguish the fire but their efforts were hampered by the strong winds which were being experienced in the area at that time. The fire has still not yet been successfully put out.

Investigations are underway to establish the cause of the inferno. This is not the first time Cottco has lost produce to a fire.

In August, a truck ferrying cotton from a buying point in Rafingora to the Cottco Chinhoyi depot caught fire and 85 bales were lost.

The Chinhoyi Municipality was notified of the fire but failed to come to the truck driver’s rescue in time. They said the local council’s fire truck was out of service. Officials at the scene estimated that the loss was about 25 000 kilogrammes of cotton worth over $2 million.

The fire was suspected to have been caused by fumes that were coming from the exhaust pipe which was positioned in front of the loaded trailer.

In 2019 the Chegutu Cotton ginning and oil ginning plant was gutted by fire and 2635 tonnes of cotton seeds were destroyed. This tragedy took place barely a year after the Agri-Value Chain (AVC) private limited-run plant had been in operation.

Investigations established that the fire was caused by combustion. The fire-fighting team managed to contain the fire within 24 hours.