Estcourt municipality has no fire engines
Several sources in the council raised the concern, saying the municipality could face a disaster if a massive fire broke out.
The two engines, one a Land Rover and the other a Mercedes, were leased from Fire Raiders, a Johannesburg-based service provider.
One is already gone and another is “on the way back” to the service provider.
The engines had been with the municipality for almost three months after they were brought in when the municipality cancelled a long-term lease with another service provider.
Inkosi Langalibalale was placed under administration by the provincial government earlier this year for several reasons, including financial constraints.
Sources alleged the financial pressure was the reason the fire engines were handed back to the service provider.
“We can answer the call for a fire emergency, but we can’t go to attend. We have to rely on other towns to assist us, and the closest are Bergville and Ladysmith, and both are an hour away,” said a source in the fire department, who refused to be named.
“The municipality didn’t want to renew the lease because it has no money. They (municipality) are busy trying to fix the old truck.
“It’s a very old truck bought in the 1970s and has been parked for a while. We can’t find parts. It’s highly unreliable and we can’t rely on it for a response.
“If there’s a fire and a real emergency with people trapped in the building, this will be a real disaster,” said the source.
Another source said the situation was “a disaster waiting to happen”.
“There are only three towns around, Mooi-Mpofana, Ladysmith and Bergville, that can help. From those towns, it’ll take a fire-truck an hour to get here,” said the source.
Wiek Alberts, manager at Fire Raiders, said the municipality had rented two vehicles from them.
One had been returned after it was damaged and another was about to be returned.
He said the council had been renting the engines for three months, including a free trial period of around 15 days.
“The municipality indicated it can’t afford to keep the Land Rover because of costs and we haven’t received a new purchase order for the other mid-size fire engine,” he said.
Municipal manager Petrus Mkhize said there was no danger, as the municipality had received fire parts to fix its own two fire engines.
He said they had a month-to- month lease with the service provider, and the municipality decided against renewing it because the engines were only necessary during the fire season.