AUDITOR General Mildred Chiri has revealed that 72 of the country’s 92 local authorities were operating with inadequate and obsolete fire tenders and ambulances with the City of Bulawayo relying on donated equipment and hardly inspecting most of its buildings.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Chiri raised the issue in a report tabled in the National Assembly this week by Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi on the local authorities’ preparedness in providing fire and ambulance services.
“A total of 71 out of 92 local authorities in the country had no fire and ambulance services (Civil Protection Department Status reports 2014),” Chiri said.
“Two local authorities without fire and ambulance services revealed that they lacked financial resources to establish these services,” she said.
The City of Harare was said to have an estimated 400 000 buildings, but inspections were carried out on only 5 053 buildings. Bulawayo was said to have 154 375 buildings, yet only 227 were inspected, and out of 38 000 buildings in Mutare and Gweru combined, none were inspected.
Out of 15 buildings inspected in Bulawayo, nine were not prepared for fire disasters, and out of 14 buildings inspected in Gweru and Mutare, only four were prepared for fire disasters, while in Victoria Falls out of the seven buildings inspected, only one was prepared for fire disasters.
“The City of Bulawayo was relying on donations for fire and ambulance equipment. My visit to 13 local authorities revealed that 11 of them were still using old by-laws of 1968, which did not contain modern buildings fire standard requirements because the Local Government ministry was still to approve amended fire by-laws,” the report said.
The Local Government ministry told Chiri that the major challenge was high costs of equipment and little revenue being generated by local authorities.
Local authorities were also said to be failing to do routine inspection of new and existing buildings resulting in hospitals and learning institutions being at high risk of fire disasters, as they had virtually no firefighting equipment and no inspections were done.
“For Harare, they had last done a blitz report of routine inspections in 2012 for 10 existing buildings, which were all condemned as unsafe for occupation. During my inspection of 20 existing buildings in Harare, I discovered that no routine inspections were done and all were not prepared for fire disasters as they had inadequate firefighting equipment,” she said.