Valley fire engines in dire state

KATHMANDU: Negligence on the part of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) has rendered the fire engines useless to respond to emergency situation.

The newest fire engine, which was brought to use 24 years ago, has now fallen through for want of maintenance.

The MoHA had agreed to provide two new fire engines to each of the municipalities along with operational and managerial cost for maintaining the old engines but the agreement is gathering dust for several months.

"Till date not a single fire engine has been purchased, nor the old ones maintained," said Ashok Shrestha, senior officer at the Lalitpur Sub-Metropolitan City.

"If a fire breaks out anywhere, there is nothing we can do. We'll not be able to send the fire engines immediately," he added.

JBYO has been operating five fire engines in the Valley—wo each in Kathmandu and Bhaktapur respectively and one in Lalitpur. While Bhaktapur municipality declined to take the responsibility of the machine for its management, one of the fire engines given to Lalitpur municipality was already sold off to a garage. While the remaining two are out of repair.

The German engine, which broke down two weeks ago in Lalitpur, was handed over 35 years ago.

"This engine hasn't been working since two weeks," said Rajendra Giri, deputy chief at the JBYO.

"Two weeks ago, a fire broke out in Imadol. We rushed there to douse the fire. It worked briefly and just as we rushed to bring more water for the second-round of fight, it broke down in the middle of the road," he added.

He said that the Ministry of Finance had allotted Rs 4.2 million for the maintenance of the fire engines but said it was of no use since the maintenance and repair of these engines are possible only in Germany.

In another instance a week ago, according to Giri, a house was on fire at Bhainsepati in Lalitpur. "We were called but we were of little help as the engine was not in good condition," he added.