Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Government to step up fire fighting

The government plans to construct fire stations at strategic areas across the nation to build capacity to respond to disasters, specifically outbreaks of domestic, industrial and even veldt fires.

“This will also boost investor confidence in the rural areas as their businesses will be secured from any form of fire that may occur,” says the NDP 10 draft document which, after a week-long national stakeholder conference in Gaborone, has gone back to the Ministry of Finance to be knocked into shape.

Lack of such security has wreaked havoc in the country. In 2004, in Molepolole, what used to be Mafenyatlala Hotel burned to the ground because there was no fire engine in the village to put the fire out. For the same reason and at around the same time, the magistrate court in Mahalapye (which was housed in rented private property) was completely gutted by fire, later determined to be a clear case of arson. The cost of the damage ran into millions of pula and, in the latter case, the government had to shell out close to half a million pula in compensatory damages to the owner.

Exactly how dire the situation is became apparent last month when fires broke out in some parts of the country, affecting some highly treasured tourist attractions.

New fire stations are to be built at Molepolole, Masunga, Francistown, Hukuntsi, Kang, Tati Siding, Shakawe, Bobonong, Tutume and Mahalapye. Additionally, a sub-fire station in Gaborone will be constructed and the Jwaneng fire station will be expanded. Houses for firefighters will be built close to the stations. A proposal has also been put forward to replace old fleet and buy fire engines.

“The members of the business communities and the public at large will accrue benefits from the construction of these fire facilities. There will be rapid response to emergencies such as fires and accidents,” the draft document says.
Already construction of fire stations is being carried out in Mochudi, Kasane, Maun, Ramotswa, Tsabong, Kanye and Gantsi and the expectation is that the construction will be completed over the NDP 10 period.

Another innovation that rural areas will benefit from, courtesy of NDP 10, is the modernisation of the customary court system. In addition to offices and staff houses, ‘modern new holding cells’ will be constructed. The government also plans to electrify 86 customary court buildings in order that they can access the Government Accounting Budgeting System for payment of fines and implementation of the court management system.

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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.