MPs grill Security minister over insufficient fire trucks

Lawmakers yesterday questioned the Minister for Internal Security over inadequate fire fighting trucks in the country, which the MPs said is a big security concern.

Lawmakers yesterday questioned the Minister for Internal Security over inadequate fire fighting trucks in the country, which the MPs said is a big security concern.

Minister Sheikh Musa Fazil Harelimana was appearing before the  Standing Committee on Budget and Patrimony to present the ministerial Budget Framework for the next financial year.

The legislators’ concern came a day after fire broke out in Muhanga Prison in Southern Province, destroying property worth millions of francs, including buildings and inmates’ belongings.

“Yesterday (Wednesday), we had an incident of a fire truck from Kigali going to put out fire in Muhanga. This is a big problem. I’m sure we all saw it. I wish to know if there is any budget allocation in the next financial year framework to provide for more fire trucks,” MP Jeanne d’Arc Nyinawase said.

MP Georgette Rutayisire said it is not practical to have fire fighting trucks only stationed in the city centre.

“Imagine a fire truck driving from Kigali to put out fire in Muhanga... Why can’t we have trucks allocated to, at least, every district?” Rutayisire wondered.

More trucks due

Responding to the queries, Minister Harelimana said the procurement process of more fire fighter trucks is underway and that the trucks would be situated at provincial headquarters.

“We are working closely with local governments. Districts have contributed funds for the Police to procure trucks for every province. By June 20, Police will visit the contracted company to see how many trucks have been built so far. During the same visit, the trucks’ manufacturers and Police logistics department will discuss the shipping modalities,” Harelimana said.

Without giving details, he said six large fire brigade trucks and 11 small fire trucks have been procured.

The minister said Police are still investigating the cause of Wednesday’s prison fire that destroyed part of men’s section.

Muhanga Prison accommodated about 5,900 people inmates and remanded persons.

According to the minister, a decision was reached to transfer the inmates to nearby correctional facilities.

“Two thousand inmates have been transferred to Mpanga Prison in Nyanza District, and 1,300, to Butare Prison in Huye District. However, female inmates will remain there,” he said.

 Police spokesperson Damas Gatare told The New Times that the current fire fighting services are still centralised, but efforts are being made to decentralise the system when new trucks arrive. 

Fire incidents

A total of 38 incidences of fire outbreaks have been registered since January this year, including the Wednesday incident in Muhanga, according to Police statistics.

In 2013, a total of 84 cases were registered countrywide, injuring eight people and killing eight others.

The majority fire incidents are caused by short-circuit, candles, welding and domestic electrical appliances, according to Police.

Police say the Fire and Rescue Brigade is facing a challenge of lack of enough water filling stations, as the nearest and only fire fighting trucks’ refilling station is based in Kimisagara, Nyarugenge District.

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