On Wednesday, 20 February 2019, it was revealed that since April 2018, 12 325 wildfires across the Province have been combated by the Western Cape Government, costing government a total of R41.59 million to date. This was reported by Disaster Management and Fire Rescue Services in the Western Cape while briefing the Standing Committee on Local Government in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament.
I would like to applaud Anton Bredell, the Minister of Local Government and his Department for their ongoing support in helping municipalities not only combat the wildfires that have taken place, but also the support provided in helping restore the areas affected.
I have now written to Anton Bredell, Minister of Local Government asking what measures his Department has put in place to support municipalities in wildfire prevention strategies.
Furthermore, I would like to welcome that Provincial treasury has committed to providing R5 million to both the City of Cape to Town and the Overstrand Municipality to help with fire disasters that have taken place in the respective areas.
The impact of wildfires can be detrimental to communities. The economic costs range from direct costs associated with firefighting, to loss of income from the land following wildfire incidents and damage to property. Moreover, landscape damage and the loss of specific infrastructure can also interrupt tourism, with negative consequences to local businesses and communities.
Disaster Management highlighted that the major cause of wildfires has been due to human activity. Measures to prevent and reduce the number of wildfires taking place among others include:
Be certain to completely extinguish cigarettes before disposing of them.
Follow local regulations when burning backyard waste.
Avoid backyard burning in windy conditions, and keep a shovel, water, and fire retardant nearby to keep fires in check.
Remove all flammables from yard when burning.
The DA in the Western Cape remains committed to reduce the number of human-caused wildfires by promoting safe behaviour when using fire and also encouraging a sense of personal responsibility for our Province’s forests and other spaces with flora and fauna.