The current state of disaster in Kwazulu-Natal has prompted the Democratic Alliance in the Eastern Cape to assess the disaster readiness of the province, specifically in terms of the Provincial Disaster Management Centre and the municipal disaster management centres.
In response to written questions by the Democratic Alliance, shocking revelations have been made by the MEC of COGTA, Xolile Nqatha. Only 41% of the fire engine fleet in the province is operational, with some municipalities having no fire engines at their disposal whatsoever.
Furthermore, there is a 33% vacancy rate at the Provincial Disaster Management Centre. The MEC further acknowledged that not all municipal disaster management centres are sufficiently equipped to execute their mandates in a disaster due to a lack of funding. In fact, no budget has been made available from COGTA for disaster management for the past three financial years.
MEC Nqatha revealed that there should be 164 fire engines throughout the province. However, there are only 97 in the province, and only 68 are in working condition and fully roadworthy. This means just 41% of the required fleet is available and operational.
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It was revealed that four municipalities have no fire engines whatsoever (Emalahleni LM, Sakhisizwe LM, Elundini LM and King Sabata Dlalinyebo LM).
A further 11 fire brigades have completed buildings with no fire trucks. These include:
- Joe Gqabi District Municipality (Elundini LM – Maclear), (Senqu LM – Barkley East) and Walter Sisulu LM (Burgersdorp).
- Chris Hani District Municipality (Nqobo LM and Sakhisizwe LM).
- Amathole District Municipality (Mbhashe LM – Elliotdale), (Mnquma LM – Centane), (Great Kei LM – Chintsa and Kei Mouth), Nqushwa LM (Hamburg), and Amahlati LM (Stutterheim).
- OR Tambo District Municipality – (King Sabata Dlalinyebo LM – Mthatha).
The DA will be raising this urgent state of disaster readiness in the province at the next sitting of the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature.
In conjunction with every municipality in the Eastern Cape, it is imperative that the province ensures that all disaster management centres, including fire stations, are fully equipped and ready to handle any potential disaster situations.