Reduced production at Long Pond within weeks — CEO

BY HORACE HINES
Staff reporter
hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, July 22, 2018

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — National Rums of Jamaica Limited, owners of the Long Pond Distillers Limited, where a section of which was last week razed by a fire, is expected to begin limited production at the facility within weeks.

“The section that we actually do the distil in is still intact and we believe in another couple of weeks, with some adjustments and some modifications, we may be able to start distilling again, but with limited production,” Winston Harrison, chief executive officer of National Rums of Jamaica Limited told the Jamaica Observer.

He revealed that the fermentation and storage areas of the distillery were totally wiped out by the blaze, which is said to have spread from burning bagasse at the bordering Long Pond Sugar Factory.

“The fermentation area was completely destroyed and the adjoining area was also destroyed,” Harrison said

He, was, however, still unable to provide an estimate of the property damage which left 65,000 litres of rum destroyed.

“Suffice it to say it is millions of dollars in losses. There is an investigation that is going on, our insurers are investigating as well as the fire team,” Harrison said.

He was quick to point out that none of the aged rum, is stored at the facility, only “what we call fresh rum which is rum just made, is stored there for a short period of time until it is shipped in those 25,000- litre tanks”.

Deputy Superintendent Roland Walters, divisional commander for the Trelawny Division of the Jamaica Fire Brigade, told the Sunday Observer that investigators are still working to quantify the level of damage caused by the fire.

With assistance from the neighbouring parishes of St Ann and St James, members of the Trelawny Division of the Jamaica Fire Brigade and personnel from the Tankweld Construction Limited, Rio Bueno plant in Trelawny managed to bring the raging fire at the distillery under control.

The National Rums of Jamaica Limited CEO expressed heartfelt thanks that none of the over 20 staff members, nor the firefighters were hurt during the incident.

“We are thankful for the fact that no one was injured, and of course express gratitude, not only to the firefighters for the job that they did in ensuring that the entire thing wasn't destroyed, but to the staff who rallied and did their best in terms of minimising what damage occurred,” he noted.

Harrison pointed out that although production at the plant will be cut by about two-thirds, it will not result in the laying off of any worker.

“What we will do is have them (staff members) assist us in the clean-up and restoration, so whilst we are running at a third of our capacity we will still be utilising persons in helping us with the clean up and restoration. So at this point in time we don't foresee anybody being out of work. Before long, the Long Pond rum will be available again on the world market,” he expressed.

But, Harrison conceded that the disaster will temporarily push back the filling of their customers' orders.

“We will have to come up with a new schedule as to when we can make those deliveries, and based on the good relationships that we have benefited from in the past we hope that they will not change their minds and go elsewhere,” he remarked.

“We do have the benefit of producing unique rums from out of Long Pond so whereas you may get something in terms of an alternative, you will not get the same thing unless you get it from the Long Pond distillery in Clark's Town, Trelawny,” he remarked.

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