More than a year after it was meant to open, the Integrated Emergency Response Centre at Bushman’s River was finally handed over to Ndlambe Municipality by Sarah Baartman District Municipality on October 19.
The response centre replaces the old firehouse which used to house a fire engine for the Kenton/Bushman’s area.
The new building was completed about 18 months ago, but by last November residents were wondering why it was standing empty and unused, with no fire engine present. Any fire in the Kenton area necessitated an engine being dispatched from Port Alfred. Response time was also affected by the stop/go’s on Albany Road and Southwell Road.
Last November, municipal spokesman Cecil Mbolekwa said there were ongoing discussions between Ndlambe Municipality and Sarah Baartman District Municipality about the handing over of the facility to Ndlambe.
“The official opening of the emergency centre will be done soon,” Mbolekwa said at the time.
It finally happened a fortnight ago. Ndlambe mayor Phindile Faxi expressed appreciation to the district municipality.
Speaking on his behalf, Mbolekwa said: “In acceptance of the Integrated Emergency Response Centre the mayor was grateful to the district for putting Ndlambe Municipality under its wing because the district will always give the support to Ndlambe Municipality”.
Mbolekwa explained that the centre was the district’s responsibility and therefore it would continuously support the local municipality in this regard.
According to Mbolekwa the facility comes at the right time when it is needed most.
“The facility is meant to accommodate Ndlambe as a whole but in the meantime the focus will be on the western side,” he said.
Mbolekwa said that the facility was a relief to the municipality’s fire truck drivers since they will not have to drive long distances should any emergency happen.
At the same time she officially handed over the response centre, Sarah Baartman mayor Khunjuzwa Kekana also handed over the keys to a refuse truck and a bakkie which will assist fire services.
Kekana further handed over certificates to trainees in fire services.
Mbolekwa said the long-awaited Integrated Emergency Response Centre was built by the district for Ndlambe Municipality in the 2015/2016 financial year.
He added that the facility would accommodate ambulance and fire services vehicles.