Richard Muponde, Plumtree Correspondent
PLUMTREE Town Council has apologised to residents and businesspeople over fire incidents which have destroyed property in the town over the years and revealed it only has three fire fighters and one fire tender.
The apology was made on Wednesday at a meeting called by residents’ associations, Plumtree Residents Association (PRADA) and its offshoot, Plumtree Combined Residents’ Association (PCRADA) and stakeholders to discuss service delivery in the town.
The meeting was prompted by the town council fire brigade crew’s failure to save Plumtree High School monumental Lloyd House hostel, which was reduced to a shell two weeks ago in an inferno.
The Plumtree fire crew failed to extinguish the fire despite arriving on time after their fire tender malfunctioned and failed to release water.
They had to summon the Bulawayo Fire Brigade which arrived two hours later. By that time the fire had already destroyed the hostel.
In his remarks at the meeting town council head of administration, Mr Herod Moyo who was standing in for the town secretary, Mr Dumezweni Davies Luthe, said residents should bear with them as their fire tender developed a problem unexpectedly.
“We apologise for the fire which gutted Plumtree High School hostel. Our crew arrived in time although they failed to extinguish the fire. Our fire tender is in good condition it’s just unfortunate that it developed a technical problem. The other problem is that we have a shortage of fire fighters that’s why you found at the scene some personnel were without the fire fighting regalia. They were staff members who were just helping,” said Mr Moyo.
He also revealed that three fire-fighters manned the fire department and operated the 1 800 litre fire tender.
“We have only three fire fighters trained to deal with emergencies. There’s a critical shortage of staff. We also have one fire tender and if resources improve we hope to buy another one,” he said.
Residents implored the town fathers to invest in a new and bigger fire tender for the town to boost investor confidence and also buy another ambulance since the town had only one.
Mr Richard Khumalo, chairperson for PCRADA advised the council to turn one of the recently bought 4x4s for departmental heads into a standby ambulance to augment the existing one.
Residents agreed that a disaster subcommittee for Plumtree Town be established to react to issues of disaster including fires and the task was left for the return of Mr Luthe.
However, it was also evident during the meeting that the two residents associations were not pulling in the same direction after PRADA chairperson; Mr Jefias Ncube appeared to be defending the council and councillors accusing his counterpart, Mr Khumalo of leaking council matters to the Press.
The burning of Plumtree High School’s pride, left 120 A-Level pupils shelterless when schools open next month.—@richardmuponde