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Santam donates R1.3-million worth of fire equipment to Sarah Baartman District Municipality

BY MARC JACOBSON - JUNE 29, 2017
Santam donates R1.3-million worth of fire equipment to Sarah Baartman District Municipality

Efforts by the Sarah Baartman District Municipality to ensure the safety of residents in the region’s local municipalities got a boost when Santam unveiled a donation of fire-fighting equipment valued at R1.3-million at an event held at the Radisson Blu Hotel, in Port Elizabeth, on Wednesday.

The handover was attended by Eastern Cape MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Fikile Xasa; Sarah Baartman District Municipality Executive Mayor, Khunjuzwa Eunice Kekana; Sarah Baartman District Municipality Speaker, Nonkqubela Pieters; Sarah Baartman District Municipality Municipal Manager, Ted Pillay, as well as various public officials and stakeholders.

The donation of the fire-equipment comes after devastating fires led the Kouga Local Municipality to declare is state of disaster.

Since 2015, Sarah Baartman District Municipality has a ‘Partnership for Risk and Resilience’ with Santam, which aims to mitigate disasters, in such ways to improve response times and management when disasters do strike.

Addressing delegates, Executive Mayor Kekana, described; “In 2015, we entered into a corporation agreement with Santam, and the agreement entailed assistance on two specific issues, first of which being fire services and disaster management.

“The agreement sought to be the capacitation of fire services in the District, where various LMs have already benefitted, and today we stand here to witness further contributions made by Santam to this very important cause.” 

She said that concerning disaster management, the municipality is proud to announce that a Geographic Information System installation is underway.

“Santam has managed to equip Kouga with hardware for computers, and first-aid training through South African Red Cross has been undertaken in Blue Crane, Nalambe, Kouga and Kou-Kamma Local Municipalities, just to name a few of the programs through their initiative, which have been made possible,” the Mayor described.

“From SBDM, we are truly grateful for the support and for the enhancement of service delivery; the municipality would never have managed to undertake the study of St. Francis Bay, in Kouga, without their [Santam] assistance.

“More informal settlements will also be assisted in efforts to mitigate, prevent and prepare for fires in the turn of disasters.”  

Also speaking at the handover, Tersia Mdunge, Santam Corporate Social Investment Manager, said that there was a need for District Disaster Management Centres to enhance the capacity of the local government in the areas of fire and flood risk management.

“Santam is aware of this reality, and has heeded the call to take the lead to promote climate risk adaptation and improve the resilience of the affected communities,” Mdunge said.

“In the Garden Route, we dispatched additional field assessment resources to support our clients and business partners, and our current focus remains on making sure our clients get the necessary assistance regarding their claims.”

The fire-fighting equipment, which includes fire-fighting hoses, torches, rescue ropes, self-contained breathing apparatus, chain-saws, portable communication radios and structural fire-fighting protective clothing, will be handed over to the seven local fire stations in the Sarah Baartman District region.

“All this equipment, specifically the portable radios for quick response time, are very important for all timeless responses,” Mdunge added.

“We [Santam] received the request on what equipment the various fire-fighting branches need, and this is the list of gear they needed.”

She also emphasized on the importance for all corporates to partner with them to assist the District, as the need for disaster management is great.

“This is just a drop in the ocean, compare to the population that we actually serve and compared to all the informal settlements in the District. In many cases, the fire-fighters are not able to reach many of those congested informal settlements, due to the special planning that needs to be done, so we need as many fire-fighting equipment and fire-fighters as possible,” Mdunge said.

She also expressed how important it is for all local municipalities, as well as the District, to be more educated on mitigating disaster risks.

“Municipalities bear the responsibility of managing fire ramifications of a disaster when it strikes, especially local municipalities, who really bear the grunt. It is important for them [LMs] to not only respond, but more importantly to mitigate the risks, is the utmost requirement and we need to be able to say how many lives or properties we were able to save.

“We [Santam] recognise that extreme weather events are increasing in intensity and we acknowledge that this poses risks to the stability and quality to human society. We are therefore a strong advocate for the need to build local level resilience and risk protection,” Mdunge concluded.

Kouga Local Municipality Executive Mayor, Elza van Lingen, will on Friday report to the National and Provincial Disaster Management on how the municipality plans to recover from the recent fire disaster.

Image Caption:  BOOST… Tersia Mdunge, Santam Corporate Social Investment Manager, addressing stakeholders at the fire-equipment handover.