DRC residents blame fire chief for blaze destruction

04 Jan 2015 16:10pm
SWAKOPMUND, 04 JAN (NAMPA) – Enraged residents of DRC informal settlement in Swakopmund on Wednesday confronted the municipality’s fire chief for showing up at a burning shack without the fire-fighting truck.
Elvis Tjaverua and several other residents, who started putting out the fires themselves when their neighbour’s shack went ablaze, were upset to see Fire Chief Adri Goosen arriving in a van without any fire-fighting equipment.
Tjaverua told Nampa at the scene that he has confronted Goosen and asked him why he came to a fire without the fire truck.
“He cannot just drive with taxpayers’ petrol and come here to do nothing. He says apparently he has only come around to do supervision work. But that’s not very useful when there’s a fire like this. We want him to help fight the fire not to come here and wait for the fire truck to come,” an irritated Tjaverua said.
The first fire truck arrived about 30 minutes later and started extinguishing the blaze. By then, the fire had already destroyed everything in the shack.
Another truck arrived about 45 minutes after the first call was made.
A crowd of angry residents, led by Tjaverua, started pointing fingers and hurling insults at Goosen, blaming him for the fire brigade’s slow response.
They told him that next time when there is a fire, he must make sure that the fire trucks arrive quickly, even before him.
The Namibian Police Force (NamPol) and the traffic officers showed up at the scene and kept the angry residents away from Goosen.
“You must behave, otherwise we’ll lock you up,” one of the traffic officers told Tjaverua.
Tjaverua said he is raising a valid concern, because the residents are sick and tired of the fire brigade always showing up late to kill fires that break out in the DRC settlement.
Approached for a response to the accusations, Goosen told Nampa that the response time for the fire brigade is sometimes lengthened by the distance.
Goosen said he is not a fire fighter but a chief, and he is not responsible for driving the fire truck. He said, as fire chief, he has other duties that he must attend to at a fire, and these duties do not have to wait for the arrival of the fire truck.
“If I drive a fire truck or wait for it so that we can come together, then I am not doing what I am supposed to do at the scene. This van that I drove here has all my equipment. That's why I have it,” he said.
Shack owner, Anna Nangolo said she was at work when the blaze started and did not know what caused it.
She suspects that one of her housemates might have left a burning candle in the room.
“I lost all my properties. I wish I was nearby when the fire started, maybe I would have at least saved a few things,” she said.