The Democratic Alliance (DA) in eThekwini Municipality has called on the city’s acting manager, Sipho Cele, to urgently implement a plan of action amid allegations of the deteriorating state of fire stations across the municipality.

DA eThekwini Municipality councillor Yogiswarie Govender alleged that a recent informal enquiry by the DA had revealed shocking details of an “embattled, crippled” fire department within the various fire stations in the Municipality.

“This critical department seems to be almost completely debilitated with failures, by what can only be deemed as gross mismanagement, resulting in shortages in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), delays in procurement of uniforms, non-roadworthy fleet, unlicensed fire engines, damaged infrastructure and frozen posts among others. The newly built Verulam Fire station remains closed for a number of the above reasons,” Govender said.

Govender said that a series of questions put to the council meeting had been conveniently excluded from last week’s sitting, as clearly there are no satisfactory answers.

She alleged that the DA had received reports from credible sources regarding challenges in the Tongaat, Verulam, Umhlanga, Ntuzuma, Phoenix, and Durban North Fire stations.

The alleged challenges faced by these fire stations in eThekwini Municipality included:

  • Defective plumbing, air-conditioners and rear gates,
  • Poor general station maintenance
  • Nil supply of oxygen cylinders for emergencies
  • The Verulam fire station, which is a brand new facility, remains closed due to an indefinite moratorium on staff recruitment
  • Lack of PPE and uniforms,
  • Lack of roadworthy fleet and non-roadworthy rescue pumpers resulting in a panel van used as a fire engine
  • Lack of necessary firefighting equipment

“There are no urgency or compulsion by officials or city leadership to remedy the situation after all of the above was duly brought to the fore. Instead, the adjustment budget contained a reprioritisation of funds to the tune of R6,5m originally earmarked for specialist firefighting vehicles being redirected for the two contentious struggle statues,” she said.

“A further sum of R1.3m was adjusted away from purchasing vehicles to the benefit of beaches and museums. During the pandemic, statues, beaches and museums were non-essential. Firefighting services on the other hand are the difference between life and death for many communities, especially those ravaged by frequent shack fires,” she said.

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Presh JM Reporter

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