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Furore Over Fire And Street Light Levies: Residents Demand Value For Money

By Shingirai Vambe

Rusape-Residents are up in arms with the Rusape Town Council for failure to put service levies to use after the local authority failed to put out a fire that broke on Saturday evening.

The fire broke out at Vhengere Bus Terminus, and there was no fire tender to put it out.

It only came to light that evening that the fire tender truck was down and its servicing was to be time consuming as a result of the spares being only available out of the country.

Cited was the procurement process in the country that does not allow council to do any purchase over night, but go through the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) tendering processes.

Responding to questions by residents on Rusape Residents Trust social media platform, council chairperson, Blessing Pambureni told residents that the truck was down and could not attend to the fire.

“We don’t have fire tender at the moment, it is down and has been taken for servicing, challenge are the required spare parts which can only be found out of the country, and it has led to the delays on its return,” Pambureni said.

This did not go down well with residents in Rusape town, receiving news that the fire tender is down, yet it is hardly seen attending to any fire accident in the small farming town.

In response to resident’s queries regarding use of the fire tender, Pamubureni highlighted how the tender is used in various districts and in emergency situations such as road traffic accidents, leading to its run down.

“Our fire tender does not only service Rusape, but Nyanga, Buhera and rural constituency. However, have contacted Mutare to come and assist,” added Pamubureni.

As most councils, state entities and parastatals don’t have any fire tender, Rusape fire tender is being used even on state programs in the province, seconded by the one, at Mutare City council.

Outrage however, stemmed from previous fire accidents, this one being the second one this year in which the local authority has failed to put out.

Residents fired salvo over levies that they are paying to the local authority but failing to get value for their money. Street lighting levies has been over discussed on different forums but the Local Authority continue to collect money without provision of street lights in most areas around Rusape town.

Rusape council has negligently failed to deal with fire accidents since time immemorial, having some blaming the type of the truck which later proved to be suitable and in good working condition but needed trained personnel to operate it.

The truck is however expected back from the garage anytime soon, close source said.

In a divergent route, Councillor Munyaradzi Chigwede (Citizen Coalition for Change) decided to focus on the cause of the fire, which he alleges was as a result of gas leak from chip fryer and fuel containers stored indoors, as the owner of the shop is in the business of selling fuel.

Chigwede blamed the owner of the shop of negligence, living children behind to attend to business in the absence an adult person.

Rusape Council later issued a statement, and again did not highlight why they failed to put out the fire however said residents should remain calm while authorities carry out the necessary investigations.

The statement reads, “Council would like to express its heartfelt sympathy to all those who lost their goods and property due to the fire incident. business owners will inevitably experience disruptions to their business and have their sources of livelihood curtailed and council is aware of the devastating impact the incident has on the affected individuals”.

Newly erected post of prep-paid parking by Rusape Town Council. Pic By Shingirai Vambe

Communication between the local authority and residents has been regarded as very poor, especially when it comes issues that are of paramount importance.

Meanwhile, TM pick n pay customers in Rusape have expressed concern over parking fees which the local authority introduced early this year.

Council officers are said to be collecting parking fees from TM customers each time they park to buy their goods in the supermarket.