KATHMANDU, Sept 10: The government is working on a plan to ensure all 217 municipalities across the country have fire engines.
According to the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development (MoFALD), only 71 municipalities have fire engines at present.
The MoFALD is preparing to distribute 34 fire engines among various municipalities within the current fiscal year. “Additional 17 fire engines donated by the Embassy of India will also be distributed to different municipalities soon,” according to Rishi Raj Acharya, under secretary at the MoFALD. The ministry will provide remaining fire engines within the next four years, he added.
In various parts of the country, local authorities often struggle to take fire under control due to lack of sufficient fire engines.
Although government claims that 71 municipalities have fire engines, most of them are either dysfunctional or lack manpower to operate them.
As a result, the government has been widely criticized for being neglectful about such a serious public safety issue.
Amar Dip Sunuwar, section officer of MoFALD, the ministry realizes the problem and is working to ensure that every municipality has at least one fire engine.
“Most of the municipalities do not keep fire engines due to high operational costs,” he said, adding that annual operational cost of an engine, including salary to drivers and firemen, hover around Rs 5 million a year.
A fire engine costs Rs 6 million.
He added that Kritipur Municipality in Kathmandu returned fire engine last year to Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) citing high operational cost.
Sunuwar explained that the ministry has developed some criteria, such as fire hazard prone areas, road access, strategic location that links different places and populated areas, among others, for distributing fire engines.