At the beginning of the month, the Mayor of the Amahlati Local Municipality, Onke Mgunculu, officially opened the Keiskammahoek Fire Station to celebrate his first 100 days in office.
A recent oversight inspection of the new facility by myself and DA Constituency Leader, Nomvano Zibonda, revealed that the Mayor’s claims are a sham.
On inspecting the new station, we found an empty building with no furniture, no staff, flooded floors, and a massive water leak outside the building by one of the new fire hose installations.
Although the fire truck for this long-awaited-for station was already procured in 2013, it has been broken since August last year. The repairs have yet to be made due to the prohibitively expensive estimated cost of R150 000 to repair it.
To make matters worse, we determined that the fire station mayor Mgunculu is so proud of has erroneously been built on the flood plain of a nearby wetland area and not at the original earmarked site.
Sadly, all indications are that this brand-new fire station will only be operational mid-July, as the furniture still needs to be procured and firefighters still need to be appointed and trained.
These delays are a devastating blow, as it means that despite having a station, the municipality will not have responders to attend to fires during peak bushfire season.
The Democratic Alliance will be submitting questions to COGTA MEC, Xolile Nqatha, to determine why the station is not operational, even though it was ‘officially opened’ and ‘handed over.’
We will also be asking what the reasons were for allowing it to be built on a floodplain, on a wetland instead of the earmarked site, as well as the risks this poses for the brand-new building.
While the DA welcomes the construction of a fire station, which is much needed by the community – it is only of benefit to the community if it is fully functional.
Getting this fire station operational must be prioritised, so that it can function as intended and service the community in situations of fire and other disasters.