Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
The country has recorded a 50 percent increase in veld fires which have also claimed two lives in the past two weeks since the start of the fire season, an official has said.
The Environmental Management Agency (EMA), publicist, Ms Amkela Sidange said today that a total of 317 fires have been required since July 31 to date.
She said in the same period last year they recorded 186 incidences of veld fires.
Ms Sidange said the two deaths occurred in Mashonaland Central last week when a father and son died due to a raging veld fire.
“In the past two weeks of the fire season we have recorded numerous losses,” she said.
“The most unfortunate scenario is the loss of a father and son in Mashonaland Central recently in a road traffic accident whose cause was mostly related to poor visibility due to an ongoing veld fire at the time.
“This is unsettling and unfortunate and as an Agency we want to pass our condolences to the grieving families”.
She said so far the country has lost a cumulative 134 500 hectares in land burnt by veld fires compared to 79 000 hectares destroyed in the same period under review in the past year.
Ms Sidange said EMA started awareness campaigns against veld fires early after realizing the risk this year was between high and extremely high during this year’s dry season.
She said the current season was unique in the sense that it has got a lot of biomass.
“This leaves us with no option, but to remain very vigilant when it comes to handling fires this dry season so that in the process we are able to prevent veld fires, protect properties and lives.
Now the agency has gone into formidable midterm workmanship with all key government departments including Agritex, Forestry Commission, Imparks, and other line stakeholders,” she added.
Ms Sidange said an assessment done recently around Chikomba had revealed that the fireguard constructions compliance levels are at 5, 6 percent.
She said it was also unfortunate that most properties have absent landlords.
“So far, we have issued 34 tickets to non-complying farmers and investigating the incidents we have recorded so we may bring the culprits to book.
“We will maintain our presence in the affected communities and assure the nation that the exercise will continue through the fire season, to ensure that the country is able to manage veld fires and we reduce loses,” she said. @tupeyo