Councils exhorted to work with ratepayers

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Matheus Hamutenya

Keetmanshoop-The Deputy Minister of Urban and Rural Development, Derek Klazen, says it is of utmost importance for town councils to forge ties with residents for them to tackle problems as a team.

Speaking at the official opening of the new state-of-the-art Keetmanshoop fire station yesterday, Klazen said the fire station is not the only solution in dealing with fires, but that there must be other critical aspects in place in order to complement it and make it effective, and the residents of any town are one of those important components.

He said the Keetmanshoop Municipality’s efforts to ensure emergency management and safeguard community safety will only be successful if the local authority forges strategic partnerships and linkages with the community members, as well as other institutions that are better positioned to provide financial and technical assistance.

“The relationship between a council and its community is fundamental and significant,” he said, adding that “involving the residents in programmes and activities that are aimed at meeting their needs will ensure ownership, support and generation of more sustainable and workable solutions to the problem at hand.”

He said on top of partnerships, it is also important for the council to have an effective emergency response plan in place, which should be a living and working document that must be updated as circumstances change over the years, while noting that having skilled personnel to run the fire station effectively is also of equal importance in the fight against fires at the town.

He urged the community of Keetmanshoop to guard against vandalism, saying the fire station is their property and it is up to them to take care of the building so that it is there for future generations, so that loss of life and property due to fires is prevented.

A delighted Gaudentia Kröhne, mayor of Keetmanshoop, said she is pleased that the fire station has been completed, adding that this will help in the fight against fire emergencies, but she was particularly concerned about the way residents react to such incidents. She said that often, in the case of a fire, residents take time to report to the emergency services, as they try to extinguish the fire themselves, and she urged residents to report fire immediately.

“I do not know whether it is due to shock, or ignorance, but residents tend to try and take care of emergency situations like fire before contacting our emergency stations,” she said.

She also pleaded with the community to guard against senseless vandalism, by being the eyes and ears of the municipality, saying the facility is aimed at improving the lives of residents.

Kröhne furthermore urged Keetmanshoop residents, especially those in informal areas, to refrain from building their shacks close to each other, so as to provide rescue and emergency vehicles easy access in case of a disaster.
The emergency crew held an ‘emergency demonstration’ on how they respond to accidents and other emergencies, which attracted a crowd of onlookers.

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