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Plumtree residents threaten to boycott paying ambulance levies

by Staff reporter
10 Apr 2018 at 07:11hrs | Views
PLUMTREE residents and businesspeople have threatened to boycott paying fire and ambulance levies if council fails to invest in state-of-the-art fire tenders for the town.

The town has been hit by a spate of fires which the local authority has failed to deal with despite collecting about $2 per household monthly as fire and ambulance levies.

The residents and business people's anger came after the Plumtree Fire Brigade failed to extinguish a fire that gutted the monumental Lloyd Hostel at Plumtree High School on Tuesday night, reducing it to a shell.

The destruction of the hostel has left 120 A-Level boys at the school shelterless when schools open next month.

The Plumtree fire crew has reportedly failed to save seven properties from fire in the past year due to a malfunctioning fire tender with extensive damage being done at Zinini Complex and Plumtree High School hostel all in the central business district.

Before it was reduced to ashes, the complex which is about 60 metres away from council offices, housed a driving school, private college, hardware store, micro-financing company, a general dealer and dressmaking shops among other businesses.

In an interview yesterday, Plumtree Combined Residents' Association chairperson, Mr Richard Khumalo, said there was no reason anymore for residents and businesses to continue paying council fire and ambulance levies.

"It's very painful. We have seen that council is incapable of dealing with fires in this town. This is the seventh property it has failed to save in a short space of time. We met as stakeholders last week and agreed to boycott paying the levies until the local authority invests in state-of-the-art fire tenders," said Mr Khumalo.

He said no sane investors would invest in a town where their buildings have no security. "We have demanded to meet the councillors and the town secretary (Mr Dumezweni Davies Luthe) this Wednesday (tomorrow) as stakeholders to solve this issue. At least if they know they can't do the job, it's wise to give a tender to a private company which can secure people's investments," Mr Khumalo said.

Contacted for comment, Mr Luthe said he was off duty. "I'm away and off, coming next week," he said.

The fire at Plumtree High School started shortly after 9PM last Tuesday night and was discovered by a History teacher, identified as Mr Ndlovu, who was housed in an apartment on the ground floor of Lloyd House.

Plumtree fire fighters who arrived soon after the fire broke out failed to extinguish it after their fire tender malfunctioned and failed to release water.

They had to send an SOS to Bulawayo Fire Brigade, which arrived two hours later and found the hostel already a shell. They battled the smouldering flames for three hours and finally won the battle at around 3AM on Wednesday.

Government has since dispatched a team of evaluators to assess and quantify the damage to the monumental double storey Lloyd Hostel. School authorities suspect arson in the inferno that destroyed the pride of the once prestigious high school.

Source - chronicle