October 4, 2013 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s fire brigade, alarmed by the rampant fire outbreaks in the country, is soliciting funds and technical assistance to bolster its firefighting team.
- The Beijing hotel in Juba on fire in 2009 (ST file photo)
The funds, according to its deputy director for finance, will be used to purchase at least 15 fire fighting trucks and support recruitment of skilled personnel to operate these assets.
All the country’ 10 states, Pasco Lado Mathias said, will benefit from these trucks to enhance emergency response to impromptu fire outbreaks.
“We are facing a major capacity challenge. We do not have fire trucks. We have only two trucks in Juba, one in Torit [Eastern Equatoria state], Wau [Western Bahr el Ghazal] and in Malakal [Upper Nile]. The rest of the states need to be supplied. They do not have any truck at the moment”, Lado exclusively told Sudan Tribune Friday.
A request, he added, is already before the interior minister for consideration.
“We are requesting for 15 trucks with the plan that each state will have at least one truck and Juba will have five because of the scale of requirement”, said the fire brigade official.
We are also facing another challenge of skilled personnel to operate and maintain them, he added.
The country’s fire brigade, Lado said, currently has only five firefighting trucks, stationed in Central Equatoria, Upper Nile, Eastern Equatoria and Western Bahr el Ghazal states.
Some of the trucks, he said, do not function due to lack of service.
A major fire outbreak in South Sudan hotel, a facility with a capacity for over 200 guests, destroyed several properties on Wednesday.
The incident, a common occurrence, showed the country’s ineptness in handling emergency situations, such as fire outbreaks.
“We were really desperate during the fire incident on Wednesday because of the shortage in trucks. We have constantly been explaining our situation to the concerned to relevant authorities but unfortunately the situation is worsening rather than improving”, Lado acknowledged.
He mainly cited shortage of vehicles and equipments used by emergency services workers and diminishing numbers of its workers as major challenges to any emergency responses.
“The fact that [the] fire-fighting service, including water distribution systems are not prevalent nationwide is a challenge”, Lado stressed, pointing to the lack of essential equipments such as mini-pumpers, auto-extrication tools, breathing apparatus, command cars and tow trucks.
“Some trucks are lying in the garage waiting for repairs and this has decreased our capacity. On Wednesday, it was clear that the emergency systems in this country need to be improved but it became difficult due to lack of funds”, said the fire brigade official.
Individuals are the ones who sometimes help repair them for this situation, he added.