Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Budget Defense: A’Ibom State Fire Service got zero allocation from Govt in 3 years

...Lawmakers express worry over sorry state facilities at fire stations

Members of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly Committee on Appropriation and Finance where on Wednesday shocked when a startling discovery of the sorry state of affairs at the state owned Fire Service was brought to the fore during the ongoing budget defense exercise by Ministries, Department and Agencies of Government, MDAs at the House of Assembly.

Reviewing the performance of the fire service in 2017 and previous years, Chief Fire Fighter in the state, and Acting Director of Fire Service in Akwa Ibom State, Engr. Ubong Umoh told the lawmakers that for the past 3 years, nothing was released in terms of funding to the service by the government.

Defending the 2018 budget of the state fire service before the House Committee on Appropriation and Finance, Engr. Umoh who briefed the lawmakers on the sorry state of affairs in the fire service, also disclosed that in 2017, the Akwa Ibom State Fire Service received zero allocation. When asked by the legislators the efforts he had made to draw government’s attention to their plight, the Chief Fire fighter said “We have sent several Memo’s to the Governor.”

He said the service was proposing N2Billion as its budget for 2018, but regretted that the Ministry of Economic Development reduced it to N300 Million. He pleaded the lawmakers to the augment the proposal to enable the service discharge its responsibilities effectively in the 2018 fiscal year, saying the N300 Million pegged by the Ministry of Economic Development was grossly inadequate.

Reacting, Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation and Finance, Hon Usoro Akpanusoh wondered why such an important government establishment was not able to access funds from government for the past three years, and promised the readiness of the committee to look into the matter.

“How do you intend to fight fire in the state? He asked rhetorically.

Hon. Usoro advised the management of the fire service to seek support from Oil  companies and private business concerns including Mobil, Shell, Supermarkets through some partnership that would enable these organisations and business concerns benefit from the support of the State Fire service in the event of fire outbreak at their business premises.

It would be recalled that the House of Assembly Committee on Works and Transport led by the Chairman, Hon. Idongesit Ituen, had last year undertook a tour of facilities at both the state headquarters and the Uyo Divisional station of the Akwa Ibom State Fire Service located at Dominic Utuk Avenue to the shocking discovery of the dilapidating state of facilities, lack of funding and reported neglect of the fire service by government. 

The lawmakers were worried at the state of affairs at all the divisional fire stations established across the state.

“You need to seek support from service companies, especially oil companies like Mobil, Shell, Total, Agip, and even supermarkets and others.

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