Johannesburg has only seven operational fire engines, says Herman Mashaba
That's the word from Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba who on Friday acknowledged that the city’s fire engines were old and “prone to break down”. He has also ordered an investigation into “suspected sabotage” of the city’s fire engines.
“These [currently available fire engines] are strategically deployed across the six districts in the city. In the event any fire station did not have an available fire engine for whatever reason‚ that fire station will be supported by the next available fire station and engine‚” Mashaba said.
Johannesburg resident and social commentator Maggs Naidu on Friday criticised the city’s fire department after his house burnt down earlier in the week.
Naidu and his wife were away when a fire engulfed his Linden home.
The response to the blaze by emergency services threw into sharp focus the dire shortage of operational fire engines in Johannesburg.
Naidu‚ who described the situation as a "disgrace"‚ said one fire truck came from Cosmo City‚ about 20km away‚ and another from Florida‚ about 10km away. He added the fire department arrived after 40 minutes.
Mashaba said according to a contract the city signed in 2015‚ it would have bought 29 new fire engines‚ but the city discovered the tender was “tainted with allegations of fraud and corruption”.
“As a result of the supplier not able to meet its contractual obligations as a result of it going into business rescue‚ and given the fraudulent tender process‚ the city was left with no option but to cancel the R161m contract for the provision of fire engines‚” Mashaba said in a statement.
The city‚ he added‚ planned to place an order for 92 new EMS vehicles‚ including fire and rescue vehicles.
“This will result in the 30 fire stations in the city each receiving a new fire engine.”