Blazing fires ravage Chobe District

Blazing fires ravage Chobe District

28 September 2009

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Botswana — The Chobe District has so far incurred costs amounting to over P500 000 battling veld fires that have erupted in different places since early this month.

The district forestry coordinator, Ms Neelo Sebele, said they are still fighting the fires and that the costs are rising daily.

The smoke from the fires impeded visibility on the Kasane-Pandamatenga road last week and motorists were forced to slow down.

Ms Sebele said the fires have ravaged some parts of the Chobe National Park, Sivuyo and Kasane Forest reserves, Lesoma, Pandamatenga and Linyati.

The damage to the environment is also estimated at millions of pula.

Ms Sebele said the usual method of mobilising villagers and civil servants to extinguish fires is ineffective as they are not trained and are using poor equipment.

She also noted that villagers are reluctant to volunteer in fire fighting expeditions.

She suggested that a fire fighting aircraft would be more effective, adding that it would also save them money.

Ms Sebele said most of the people involved in fighting veld fires in the district are police officers and soldiers.

However, she said they are expecting a team of Australian fire experts to arrive in January and train some members of the district disaster management team to fight veld fires.

Chobe district commissioner, Mr Tlale Setumo, decried lack of modern equipment to fight veld fires in his district.

He said the use of public servants to fight the fires also impacts negatively on service delivery as equipment and personnel are dispatched to the site.

He also appealed to public to desist from burning the veld.

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