Firefight helicopter 'cost too much'

2010-07-20 00:00

THE KZN Agriculture Department says astronomical costs were behind its decision not to sign a service agreement contract with a fire-fighting company, which resulted in a “heavy lifter” helicopter necessary for fighting runaway fires being redeployed elsewhere during the fire season.

The department was responding to an article in The Witness last week that reported it had failed to sign a service agreement with firefighting organisation Firestop, which managed the Russian-built heavy lifter on behalf of a charter company.

Fearing that they would not be paid after poor previous experiences with the department, the charter company removed its helicopter from the province and apparently deployed it to Turkey.

In a statement, spokesperson Zakhele Nyuswa said the cost of operating the chopper influenced their decision.

He said the department takes fires and other disasters seriously especially because they threaten human lives, flora and fauna and the provincial economy. However, the department also has a duty to uphold financial austerity measures.

“The agreement in question previously cost the department and the national department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry R3 million a year just to be on standby.

“It cost a further R30 000 on average per take-off.”

Nyuswa said the department is still ready for any eventuality.

“If a fire broke out today, the department, working with other departments and the Provincial Disaster Management Centre, would be able to respond appropriately and adequately.”

He urged the public and the agricultural sector not to panic.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Graphic Designer

Cape Town Northern Suburbs
Creative Sourcing
R7 000 - R9 000 Per Month

Debtors/Creditors Supervisor

Century City
Pro Placements Recruitment Agency
R10 000 - R12 000 Per Month

CSR Inbound

Cape Town Northern Suburbs
O'Brien Recruitment
R14 000 - R16 000 Per Month

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.