City at risk from fire as tenders grounded

All the Gweru local authority’s fire tenders have been grounded due to a combination of old age and breakdowns, officials have said.

Edgar Mwedzi, the city’s finance director, said there were plans to address the problem in the 2014 council budget.

“If the city experiences any major fire outbreaks, shops, buildings and other property face the risk of total destruction,” he said. “The issue of our fire tenders is one critical area that we need to look at in the 2014 budget because council at present has no money,” he said.

He told The Zimbabwean that the council had failed to maintain the emergency services fleet because of a serious cashflow problem. The situation was a set-back on efforts made early this year by Operation Florian, a UK-based fire and rescue services and humanitarian organisation, to help Gweru.

The organisation donated equipment worth $46,000, which included fire-fighting kits, protective clothing and general rescue equipment.

In the past, the lack of preparedness by the council to deal with fire outbreaks has been disastrous. In September, 21 vehicles, including three kombis, were reduced to a shell when fire spread to a garage in the city’s light industrial area. In the city’s high-density suburb of Mkoba 17, a home was recently razed to the ground. In both cases, the council was unable to help.

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