During a Council meeting held on Tuesday 22 January 2019 in Hermanus’ banqueting hall, Executive Mayor Ald Dudley Coetzee delivered the following address regarding approval of unforeseen and unavoidable expenditure due to fires experienced across the Overstrand.

The Mayor’s speech, is published below:

The fire season for the period to date proved to be extreme, posing a serious financial challenge for the municipality, for our own staff for overtime payment, for vehicle fuel costs as well as for external resources obtained to ensure that the municipality had the necessary capacity to deal with these abnormal circumstances.

Our fire department had to utilize Working on Fire (WOF) ground crew on 2 November 2018, for the Mountain Fire in Hermanus due to Civil Unrest.

On Saturday 15 December 2018 a veld fire in Hawston was reported.  The first arriving officer informed the Chief: Fire Services that property was in danger in Marine road, Hawston.  The Fire Chief requested approval to utilize aerial as well as ground resources, for Overstrand Municipality’s account.

On 25 December 2018 a fire was reported on the R43 near Fisherhaven.  The first arriving officer reported that the fire was already out of control and was spreading towards the Karwyderskraal and Afdaksrivier area. Life and property was in danger therefore additional resources were requested including Aerial support and Working on Fire ground crews.

But, the worst was still to come - a fire occurred in the Betty's Bay mountain in the early morning of the 1st of January 2019. Due to prevailing conditions, aerial support had to be called on as the area was inaccessible to our firefighters. Other municipalities were also asked for assistance in providing additional ground teams.  This incident impacted on resources over the next few days.

On 11 January 2019 the Chief Fire Services, confirmed that the Fire Department had a number of fires to attend to, hence a code red was declared at provincial government. Resources had been stretched beyond its capacity with the following major incidents:

* Betty's Bay Wild Fire
* Masakhane fire which spread rapidly to the Franskraal Wild Fire
* Karwyderskraal Fire, also rapidly escalating, threatening several communities including Camp Hill and the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley.  This fire spread across the mountain to Fernkloof.

Aerial support had been requested however due to the gusting gale force winds the helicopters had to stand down and were unable to assist with firefighting operations.

Subsequent to the initial support requested, additional resources were required during the next few days, such as additional Working on Fire crews and other ground teams, additional aerial resources, digger loaders and chain saw operators, etc., in order to assist our municipality with the ongoing fires in Betty's Bay, Hermanus and Gansbaai.

Approximately 200ha of indigenous vegetation of the Fernkloof Nature Reserve burned.  The area previously burned in 2008 and therefore the veld is currently about 11 years old.  Mountain Fynbos usually burns between 12-15yrs without extensive damage to the integrity of the veld.  

The following provisional estimated cost of unforeseen and unavoidable expenditure for these fires is at this stage:

The current estimate for Fire Fighting Services (external):              
(We still await final accounts from other municipalities)
R 3 500 000.00
Estimated replacement costs of Fire Engine destroyed in fire: R 2 420 000.00
Estimated Additional Vehicle Fuel costs for December 2018 &
January 2019 Fires:
R     450 000.00
Overtime estimates: (based on Overtime submissions): R  1 900 000.00
 Estimated Water services infrastructure:                    
(Booster pumps, Replacement of domestic water meters
 and connections, Markers of fire hydrants and valves, Signage)
R     978 000.00
The estimated infrastructure damaged on the Fernkloof Reserve R     100 000.00
This brings us to a total estimated amount of R 9 348 000.00


Apart from having to make the following announcement now at this special meeting of Council in terms of section 29 of the Local Government: Municipal Finance Management, Act 56 of 2003 (MFMA).  I am also to urgently provide the information to the Provincial Ministers of Finance and of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning.

Unforeseen expenditure

I need to inform you in terms of the provisions of section 29 of the MFMA that I have, on request from the Municipal Manager, authorised unforeseen and unavoidable expenditure for which no provision was made in the 2018 / 2019 Budget of the Municipality.

This authorisation was as a result of discussions to consider the excessive expenditure incurred with regard to the various Wild Fires experienced across the Overstrand over the past few weeks, of which the extent could not reasonably been foreseen.

The total costs at this stage as estimated, which exact details will be finalised as soon as possible, and will be appropriated in a forthcoming adjustment budget at the end of February 2019, to address requirements.





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