Someone needs to be fired over the $42 million fire tenders. Seriously. The more I hear explanations from government officials and other interested parties, the more I am convinced that either someone was sleeping at the wheel or we the Zambians are being taken for fools.
Someone goes into Parliament and tells the nation that the fire trucks were bought according to specifications given by the fire experts. Really? So if the police told government that they need to buy sports cars costing $1m each to catch speeding criminals on the road, would they agree and sign off on that?
Are we being told that in the entire chain starting from the fire department, through the Finance Ministry up to the commissioning by the Vice-President Inonge Wina, not a single person thought to say, “Hang on a minute. Where are all these trucks going to be placed in Zambia?”
If anyone had asked that simple question, they would have immediately seen the absurdity of buying a fire truck worth a million Dollars and sending it to Kasama or Kalulushi. They would also have seen that even Lusaka only needs 3 at the most.
Now, in case you are wondering, I am not claiming that the tender process was corrupt. I think it was followed to the letter. I just think that the people who came up with the specifications for the fire trucks did not do their job correctly, otherwise they would know that you cannot send a $1m fire tender to small towns with small populations. Are we to believe the Zambian fire experts are mad? Or is there something else at play here?
If you buy 42 fire trucks and send them into the districts, isn’t it common sense that you need fire stations? Do all the districts that will receive them have fire stations? And do they have competent staff to man them? A fire truck needs about 5 crew members to be effective, of which at least two can drive the truck. That is 210 people for 42 trucks.
I doubt the fire department has 210 fire fighters. When are they going to be employed? Can government afford to pay them all? If they are sent to Chavuma, does the district have housing for them, aside from the fire station? How many fires will ever be put out in Monze or Kashikishi?
Do the towns have a source of water to fill up the 7,000 litre tanks? And if they go to put out a fire and run out of water, do we have fire hydrants in all the towns that will receive the fire trucks? Most towns don’t even have a water reticulation system but somehow they need a $1m fire truck. How?
Either someone was sleeping at the wheel of there is something very sinister going on. Whatever the truth, someone needs to be fired!!!