By Roland Enya-Forte
Safety professionals in Cross River State have called for the rescuing of the Cross River State Fire and Rescue Service which currently has no functional equipment.
The department has not received imprests to operate for 25 months according the sopkesman of the department.
The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Cross River State Chapter of the Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria, Tobi Olagbegi and the PRO of the state fire department, Makperr Cletus disclosed this recently on The Dialogue With Agba Jalingo, a weekly radio program on Hit FM Calabar where emergency management was discussed.
Mr. Cletus Makperr, blamed poor funding for the lethargic performance of the fire and rescue department.
He also blamed the absence of “right of way” for firefighters and ignorance on the part of the citizenry for the increase in fatal emergency situations in the state.
He regretted that the dearth of emergency response equipment and tools across the state has rendered the sector prostrate, likening the situation to “a farmer who goes to the farm without hoes and cutlasses,” which he said puts their lives at unnecessary risk.
He however called on public spirited individuals to intervene in the sector through the provision of fire stations and fire truck amongst others as it is done in countries like Australia and other western countries, instead of waiting on government alone to shoulder all the responsibilities because “one never knows who will be the next victim.”
Mr. Tobi emphasized on the need for improved governance in the sector and that the emergency services should be given “financial autonomy”.
He maintained that emergency management is a planned activity and reiterated the need for the populace to be proactive.
“Citizens must take responsibility for their safety,” Tobi said, adding that that it was time people whose actions or inaction are responsible for causing disasters, are brought to book.
“Stakeholders must come together to ensure compliance,” said Mr. Tobi.
Callers on the program severally observed that government must show concern for the common man by improving investments in rescue equipments, training first responders and properly remunerating them given the harsh economic realities, while the civil society was also encouraged to create awareness on emergency management and risk reduction.