Zimbabwe — THE Manicaland Provincial Governor, Cde Chris Mushohwe, has called for more effort in curbing veld fires, which the province has become notorious for. In a speech read on his behalf by the Makoni District Administrator at the launch of the provincial fire week in Headlands last Thursday, Cde Mushohwe said, incidents of fire were quite worrying in the province and urged everyone to take responsibility and accountability. The theme for this year’s commemoration is: “Protect the environment, prevent veld fires”. “It is quite disheartening that the province is popular with veld fires and yet a huge responsibility lies in us to manage and control the fires. People who are supposed to be the true ambassadors of their environment have turned out to be evil to their own environment,” he said Cde Mushohwe singled out 2005 and 2008 as the most disturbing years for the province as large tracts of plantations were devastated by uncontrolled veld fires. “In 2005 alone 225 fires destroyed 9 238 ha of timber equivalent to 12 percent of the national timber resources, while in 2008 the hectarage loss doubled with Chimanimani District being hardest hit in 2009. “Makoni District lost 17 510 ha, while Chipinge and Mutare districts had 20 250 ha and 37 116 ha respectively affected by veld fires during the same period,” said Cde Mushohwe, adding that the launch of the national fire protection strategy in Chimanimani District in 2007 was a landmark victory, not only for the whole nation, but also for Manicaland as a province. Cde Mushohwe said the national fire protection strategy ushered in a new fire prevention and management approach which managed the formation of provincial and district fire committees. “I am informed that committees have been formed in all the districts and have a huge task of ensuring that at the lowest level there are functional village and ward fire committees as well as fire fighting teams so that we can all sustain our local environment and the economy at large,” he said. The verges of major highways especially Mutare-Macheke and Mutare Nyanga as well as some valuable grazing land in Headlands, Nyazura and Odzi have not been spared by veld fires. Nyanga National Park has been a target of veld fires deliberately set by poachers and in 2005 alone, it had 5 000 ha of land destroyed. In terms of the law, no person shall start a fire outside residential or commercial premises between July 31and October 31 every year since it is a fire hazard period. Failure to observe this statutory requirement may result in perpetrators of such actions being severely punished in light of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act.