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Police fire brigade caught napping



Staff Reporter

MASERU – THE police’s fire brigade was caught literally napping last week when a haulage truck belonging to Executive Transport overturned and burnt to ashes.

The truck was transporting textile materials that spilled close to a house near the road and it nearly caught fire too.

The fire brigade’s offices are barely three kilometres away from the United Nations Road near the Chinese Embassy, where the accident happened.

The accident was also barely 50 metres away from where the police had a road block and the truck had just left them after being checked.

Both the police who were at the road block, other motorists and passers-by called the Maseru Central Police, where the fire brigade is, to report about the accident.

The fire brigade did not show up.

Eventually Executive Transport had to bring its own water bowser to put out the fire which by that time was spreading to a nearby house whose owners were already moving out their property.

The police fire vehicle arrived after some two hours when the Executive Transport workers had extinguished the fire but the truck had already been completely burnt.

The incident has exposed the fire brigade’s incompetence. It is an illustration that the fire brigade is not prepared to deal with dire disasters.

Yet last week’s incident is not isolated. There is now a trend that shows that the fire brigade is not prepared to deal with emergencies especially when they happen simultaneously.

Just four months ago former Public Works Principal Secretary Lebohang Phooko’s house caught fire and his wife was burnt to death while their son was admitted at Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital with serious injuries.

The family did not call the Maseru fire brigade but instead called the Moshoeshoe I International Airport fire fighters who came quickly. A local radio station Moafrika FM called the police but they did not go.

Phooko says the Moshoeshoe I Airport fire fighters were swift and effective and managed to put out the fire on time.

He says it was not necessary for the police to come because he called the Airport fire fighters.

The ineffectiveness of the police fire fighters could be traced back to 2003 when a prominent retail shop, Wool Wagon, caught fire.

The retail shop was at the Lesotho Evangelical Church (LEC)’s shopping complex, some 200 metres from the Pitso Ground police.

The Maseru police fire brigade is about three kilometres from the area.

The brigade’s van never arrived at the scene.

The van that arrived at the scene belonged to the Lesotho Defence Force, after some two hours and it had no water.

Police spokesman Superintendent Clifford Molefe says the fire brigade “is serving a large community and as a result sometimes we are unable to attend a scene because we would have attended another”.

“An emergency is not planned and therefore it is impossible for the fire brigade to know when and where there will be fire,” Molefe said.

He however declined to disclose how many fire fighting vehicles the brigade has and the number of workers “because of security concerns”.

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