Durban’s northern communities to benefit from R27m fire station opened in Verulam
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DURBAN - ETHEKWINI Municipality opened a R27-million Verulam Fire Station at the weekend, bringing relief to Durban’s northern communities.
The municipality said the facility, located in the heart of town, would serve Verulam and the surrounding communities and businesses of Canelands, King Shaka International Airport, Cornubia, Phoenix, Umhlanga and uThongathi. Durban mayor Mxolisi Kaunda, speaking during the opening, said communities had been calling for the facility for many years.
He said in the previous dispensation, communities like Verulam, Inanda, Phoenix and other nearby areas were left out when infrastructure planning was done. “As a responsive and caring government, we are pleased that their request has now been fulfilled. Opening the fire station has brought a great sense of relief to residents and businesses in the area. It is important to know that when there is an emergency, there will be help close on hand,” he said.
Kaunda urged community members to protect the facility from vandalism and theft.
DA councillor Yogis Govender said they were pleased about the opening of the fire station as it is what they had been fighting for.
According to Govender, the response time by the city’s fire department had been extremely long.
“The consequences also of the fire station’s inability to respond timeously through no fault of staff is that when they eventually arrive, they face an enraged community who threaten, assault or try to destroy the fire engines. This places the responders’ lives in even more danger and risk,” she said.
According to Govender, R1 billion was brought back on the capital budget in the September adjustment last year to be spent on improving service delivery infrastructure. “Yet I am still advised that various fire stations in the municipality are still battling. This critical department seems to be almost completely debilitated with failures, by what can only be deemed as gross mismanagement, resulting in shortages in personal protective equipment, delays in procurement of uniforms, non-roadworthy fleet, unlicensed fire engines, damaged infrastructure and frozen posts, among others.
“The Verulam Fire station was completed more than a year ago, but remained closed for a number of the above reasons,” she said.