The number of functioning fire engines in the City of Johannesburg has remained a secret ever since the ANC took over the City’s government. The various fire-fighting vehicles, known as the red fleet, are vital for Emergency Management Services’ (EMS) operations to save lives and properties. Even without the official figures, one thing we know for sure is that the City does not have enough functional fire engines to service its residents.
At the start of the financial year in July 2020, the City ambitiously allocated R200 million to buy new vehicles for the red fleet. We were pleased to see that the new government’s willingness to continue with the fire engine procurement program started by the DA, but we cautioned them that all mechanisms and procurement processes must be in place to successfully complete this important project.
More than seventh months later, the City doesn’t have a single new fire engine. To make matters worse and despite the DA’s vehement protest, the ANC has pushed through an adjustment budget last week to slash the R 200 million intended for red fleet procurement to zero.
All this happened whilst the MMC for Public Safety sad quietly in support of this disgrace when she should have been fighting hard to ensure new fire engines are bought for the residents as planned.
The ANC has now allocated this budget towards additional staff costs which look like jobs for cadres during an important election year. Residents of Johannesburg should not have to live with the risk of losing their lives and properties to fire because the ANC cannot do something as simple as ordering new fire engines.
I urge the City to start the procurement process of fire engines without any further delays and consider using emergency procurement to correct this dire situation. The City should also explore a public private partnership to allow EMS to partner with qualified private service providers at fire scenes. Residents can only benefit if the City takes the initiative to put their safety first