By Charles Tjatindi
Swakopmund Town Council plans to construct a N$9-million state-of-the-art fire station and a centrally located plot has been identified for this development.
Swakopmund Municipality’s Fire Chief, Tony Moller, told the media that construction will commence soon and completion is envisaged for September next year.
The fire station will consist of an in-house training facility, 24-hour emergency room and adequate parking for at least six emergency vehicles. A library and accommodation facilities for firefighters will also be constructed as part of the fire station.
Moller noted that the construction of the facility has been necessitated by the rapid growth and expansion of the town. The new facility will cut fire incidents response time, especially those involving shacks at the town. It is estimated that every second erf in Swakopmund’s Mondesa residential suburb has one or another form of informal accommodation structure erected in the backyard.
Shacks are vulnerable to fire outbreaks that mostly arise from illegal electrical connections.
The town council has set up a working committee to develop policy guidelines for the gradual phasing out of shacks. Most residents, especially those from Mondesa, are either unemployed or low-income earners making the phasing out of shacks difficult.
The working committee is tasked with identifying best possible approaches to the situation, with options of either totally eliminating shacks or reducing their numbers in an attempt to make them safer and habitable.
Currently, shacks serve as a source of income for landlords and as shelter to tenants, with the latter being more secondary, according to the council meetings.
Moller, however, noted that shack fires have decreased over the last few months.
Once complete, the Swakopmund Town Council hopes to rope in more firefighters to boost the current staff complement of only two permanent employees and 24 volunteers. Council also hopes to accord all its firefighters the latest training in firefighting techniques and discipline.