Public Works Commends Working on Fire Team
Pretoria - The Department of Public Works has commended its Expanded Public Works Programme's Working on Fire team that is part of the operation battling to extinguish the devastating fires raging in Cape Town.
Public Works Deputy Minister Jeremy Cronin said the Working on Fire programme is one of the flagship programmes of the EPWP. Over 1 000 Working on Fire participants from various provinces have joined the operation.
“We are proud of the work done by our EPWP participants in Cape Town. They have joined with various organisations and the people of Cape Town to extinguish the ongoing fires in the Southern Peninsula,” he said.
Deputy Director-General of the EPWP in the national Department of Public Works, Stanley Henderson, said: “This is what we mean when we say that EPWP is a programme of the people of South Africa and therefore it responses to all societal challenges.
“We are truly proud of the work done by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) in conserving our environment and saving the lives and property that is at risk of being guttered by these fires.”
The areas that are affected by the fires include Muizenberg, Bredasdorp, Tulbagh, Hermanus and parts of the Southern Cape.
The Working on Fire teams are working with other fire fighters from Volunteer Wild Fire Services, the Table Mountain National Park and local municipalities.
Western Cape General Manager of Working on Fire, Shane Christian, said the fires could have had a devastating socio-economic impact had it not been for the involvement of EPWP Working on Fire teams.
“We must compliment government for funding this programme. Government has used close to R4 million to fund this operation since Sunday.
“Working on Fire costs alone are well over R600 000 over the last four days. The R4 million we are talking about includes aircraft costs and fire fighting. In this operation, we have used four helicopters to drop more than two million litres of water since this operation started,” he said.
Christian said although the fire had not been contained as yet, they remain optimistic it will be extinguished before the end of the week.
“Our plan is to douse all the fires by the end of the week. However, we need to point out that the weather has not been kind to us.
“We’ve had strong winds and extreme hot days. These conditions negatively affect our work. If the negative situation persists, we might need to call for reinforcements,” said Christian.
The fire fighters team leader, Bonga Bekwa, said: “Working together with all stakeholders, we will be able to douse the fires by the end of the week. We are proud of being part of this bold team of fire fighters.
“We believe that with the training, experience and support we received from the EPWP, we will be able to stop these fires.”
The community of Cape Town also hailed the EPWP’s involvement in the operation.
Lisa Clinton, a resident of Muizenberg, said: “It is inspiring to see these brave young people are enduring the most difficult situations to fight for our community.
“We are proud of them and may government invest more resources in recruiting more youngsters into such social upliftment programmes.”