Andile Tshuma, Chronicle Reporter
THE Bulawayo City Council is considering introducing a fire insurance levy so that residents will not pay for fire brigade services in the event of fires.
In the council latest report, Bulawayo Mayor Councillor Solomon Mguni expressed concern over increased load shedding which he said was likely to lead to increased fire incidences in the city.
“This (load shedding) will no doubt result in increased use of candles by residents and this in turn will increase the risk of fires,” said the Mayor.
According to the council report, Clr Mguni said the idea of property insurance should be revisited so that residents are encouraged to insure their houses.
“It would seem the frequency of property fires is on the increase and the requests for waiver of the Fire Brigade fees are increasing proportionally. Council should therefore revisit the idea of property insurance that was mooted a few years ago where residents in the city would contribute a small amount via the billing system towards a house insurance fund,” he said.
“All rate payers would be subjected to this fund and the contributions would be a percentage of the payable owner’s rates, say 2 percent. That will mean ratepayers will contribute per sizes of their properties. The fund will eliminate requests for waiver of brigade charges as the brigade will draw its expenses from that fund”.
The council report also noted that fire incidents were on the decline which was attributed to spirited fire campaigns.
However, it was suggested that a fire levy be introduced to cushion residents in the event of a disaster.
“As a result of spirited fire campaigns, incidences of fire outbreaks are on the decline. The issue of a fire levy hit a brick wall upon advice from the Attorney-General’s office which felt it was tantamount to compulsory insurance. It is however, worth visiting when crafting the 2020 Budget,” read the report.
The development follows a number of applications by residents seeking waivers as they could not pay for fire brigade services, with the latest letter of request coming from a senior citizen who could not pay $517 in service fees. — @andile_tshuma