Nuusita Ashipala Oshakati-The slow response rate of emergency fire fighters puts people and property at risk, a concern that has been raised at various local authorities over the past years. Apart from the reported slow response to emergencies, the reliance on fire fighters on standby at home is also disadvantaging residents. The cries of the residents to have a fully-fledged fire station to respond to emergencies has led various town councils to construct multi-million infrastructure to respond to the demands of their residents. The Ondangwa, Okahao, Oshikuku and Eenhana town councils said their fire prevention services make provision for a fire fighter to be on standby, stationed at the fire station to respond to emergencies. Contrary to the rest of the northern local authorities, Ongwediva Town Council spokesperson Jackson Muma - where a hotel burned to ashes over the past weekend - said they do not have fire-fighters stationed after-hours. Ongwediva Town Lodge was razed to the ground by a fire that also caused extensive damage to the neighbouring Hotel Destiny. “The fire-fighters are only at the fire station during office-hours, after-hours and weekends we have someone on call at home to respond to emergencies,” Muma said. Many comments on videos and photos taken at the scene on Saturday, which went viral on social media, blamed Ongwediva Town Council for the alleged slow emergency response. However, Muma disputed the claims, saying the fire fighters arrived 13 minutes later when they were notified. “The people first walked to the police station to report the matter, instead of calling our offices for help and that is what delayed the response,” Muma said. Muma is not certain when the fire station will have onsite fire fighters, although the fire station is complete, and said provision for constructing accommodation facilities for fire fighters is on the cards. It was noted that when the facility was under construction the council insisted it would have 24/7 services available. Ondangwa Town Council spokesperson Petrina Shitalangaho said shortly after the station was inaugurated that the council had made provision for a fire fighter to be stationed on site at all times. “It is our mandate to ensure that we have someone onsite all the time, because we charge the residents for emergency services,” said Shitalangaho. Eenhana Town Council spokesperson Paulus Shilongo said the council only has one fire fighter. “We have other fire [fighting] staff, who assists. Hence, our fire fighter is occasionally on site, depending on when he is on duty,” Shilongo said. Oshikuku is yet to inaugurate their fire station, but spokesperson John Siloiso said provision has been made to have a 24/7 emergency response unit to avoid disasters at the town.
2017-10-26 10:10:27 10 months ago