Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
United Kingdom-based fire service and humanitarian charity organisation, Operation Florian has secured three fire tenders, a specialist rescue hydraulic platform and a 20-foot container with an assortment of equipment for Harare City Council, but the local authority is failing to pay shipping costs.
Council has also been failing to raise the foreign currency required to bring in the remaining 15 refuse trucks acquired from one of the world’s leading automotive manufacturing companies, FAW Group Corporation.
The vehicles have been holed up in South Africa since last year while the city has been engaging the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) over the issue on several occasions.
Speaking at a handover ceremony of some of the equipment already in the country yesterday, Acting Mayor Councillor Jacob Mafume implored city officials and RBZ to expedite payment.
“I am also aware that there are three fire tenders, a specialist rescue hydraulic platform and a 20-foot container with an assortment of equipment awaiting shipping and related costs to be paid. I thus encourage my management team and implore the monetary authorities to expedite the payment as a matter of urgency,” he said.
“The sanctity of life and preservation of property relies largely on a well-equipped; adequately protected and well trained lifesaving team. To this end our partners have donated three fire tenders, two heavy rescue vehicles, personal protective equipment and an array of equipment over the past five years.”
He said the donations were coming in the dry season when frequent and instantaneous fires are being reported across the country.
Clr Mafume said lots of lives, particularly animals and properties are being lost through such fires.
He bemoaned brain drain that has been affecting the department.
“The training has come as a blessing and curse. What it means is that the staff members of this department are departing for different parts of the world. When they receive training they immediately get jobs elsewhere. We need to improve our working conditions so that we are able to retain staff,” he said.
“We are also standing at a fire station, which was built in 1963. It has become small. I am told we have land set aside so that we reduce the distances which our firemen have to travel to respond to emergencies. We need to look into constructing more sub stations. I am told we need about 10 sub stations to adequately serve the city.”
Operation Florian project adviser Mr Shepherd Ndlovu said the partnership between Harare City Council and his organisation was paramount to the success of the mission.
“This is the sixth year of this partnership and the fifth phase of training undertaken by Operation Florian personnel in Harare. The aim of the partnership with the international humanitarian charity, Cleveland Fire Brigade and UK Fire and Rescue Services to help provide fire equipment and training to the Harare Fire and Ambulance Service and neighbouring fire brigades,” he said.
“Operation Florian has been working with Fire and Ambulance Services in Zimbabwe since 2011. Over this period of time we have secured and shipped over 30 fire appliances, a turn table ladder and a hydraulic platform.”
He said Operation Florian has also shipped 20 containers of equipment.
Acting town clerk Mr Stanley Ndemera said the equipment awaiting shipping will be given priority.
“I will make sure the resources are made available. The equipment we have been receiving from Operation Florian Mission has helped us in our response readiness as we are obliged to deal with emergencies even outside our own jurisdiction as the City of Harare,” he said.