Blantyre City Council decentralizes fire brigade services

Following the shameful seizure by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of its convenient site at the Queens Park off Nkolokoti Road in Limbe, the Blantyre City Council (BCC) plans to have fire brigade satellite stations in Limbe, Chirimba and Blantyre CBD, Chief Executive Officer Ted Nandolo has revealed.

The Limbe station will be servicing the Limbe zone whenever fire breaks out and will be planted along the congested Limbe market street near the old country side bus depot and anytime a fire engine and a skeleton staff will be sent to the place to start the operations.

The chief executive officer also revealed that the Blantyre satellite station will be at the Old Town
Hall next to Regional Government offices for the south (next to Immigration Department headquarters) to serve the Central Business District and the immediate areas.

Old Town Hall to be used as Blantyre CBD fire brigade satellite station

“We have had problems in arriving at the accident scenes in time so we believe the satellite stations will be the rapid response team first to reach the scenes,” Nandolo said when the Japanese
Government donated two brand new fire engines to the council.

The chief executive officer also disclosed that a third fire brigade satellite will be opened later at Chirimba industrial site so that the area is equally covered.

“Currently, we have a 20-minute response time but these satellite stations will drastically reduce time to about five minutes so that we serve the people faster and better,” said Nandolo, adding that with the two vehicles donated by the Japanese BCC now has five engines all in perfect working state.

When Nyasa Times visited the Old Town Hall, a number of electricians, carpenters and builders were found busy renovating the imposing structure which was opened around 1906 but has for many years been used as a National Monument by the Department of Antiquities.

At the site, Nyasa Times also established that BCC will be sharing the building with the Blantyre District Education (DEM) offices, which under the new government decentralization policy now falls under the council.

The education offices are at currently housed in the Museum of Malawi offices at Mandala but they were, however, ordered to move out after the Department of Culture was detached from the Ministry of Education.

Despite these arrangements, the said places cannot match the original site (Queens Park) hugely in terms of infrastructure.

Queens Park already has hostels, a fence, a workshop, a garage and water connection with a reserve tank which was already built by the Japanese when they were constructing the first phase of the Masauko Chipembere Highway duo carriage.

But a source at the BCC Engineering Department told Nyasa Times “it is unfortunate that the first plan to have the fire brigade station at Queens Park were botched up. That was a big blow since the council deliberately gave Shimz (the Japanese company that was constructing the highway) to establish an operations site which could make life easier for the fire brigade once the Japanese company finishes its work.”

Queens Park is now under the Mulakho wa Alomwe after President Bingu wa Mutharika directed the BCC to offer the site to the tribal heritage grouping for its own projects.

The two engines have been made possible courtesy of the Japanese Fire Brigade Association but were shipped into the country by the council itself.

The Japanese Ambassador to Malawi, Fujio Samukawa, revealed at the handover ceremony that the Japanese association is also facilitating another donation of six fire engines to the council.

The two engines were donated along side two others for Lilongwe and one each for Zomba and Mzuzu City Councils.

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