State House – Office of the President of the Republic of Seychelles

The President of the Republic, Mr. Wavel Ramkalawan alongside Vice-President Ahmed Afif chaired a meeting yesterday at the Seychelles Institute of Teacher Education auditorium (SITE) focused disaster management and preparedness following the fire on the landfill 2 at Providence this week. The aim of the meeting was predominantly to discuss the weaknesses, challenges and the way forward by bringing greater clarity and ensure effective planification for future incidents at national level.

In his opening remarks, President Ramkalawan thanked all the stakeholders present for attending such an important meeting. Following his observation on site at the landfill fire incident and through the different communications, he expressed made a call for greater coordination and collaboration between partner agencies. He urged all involved including the national emergency operational centres, command posts and other agencies concerned to develop a comprehensive manual with relevant strategies promoting a collaborative approach. In regards to lack of equipment, the President also informed the meeting that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Government has donated a consignment of masks, canisters and fire hoses.

“First and foremost, I would like to express my appreciation and thank everyone that was at landfill 2 throughout the incident; namely the Disaster Risk Management Division (DRMD), Red Cross, Seychelles Fire and Rescue Services Agency (SFRSA), the Seychelles Police, Vijay Construction (Pty) Limited, Ministers, Landscape and Waste Management Agency (LWMA), Vijay Construction, Civil Construction Company Limited (CCCL) and many others. I salute your courage, determination and commitment,” said the President.

He continued, “From my observation, I have noticed that there has been a lack of communication and coordination between the different agencies and Ministries. There has also been a lack of coordination to get the required equipment and resources on site. As to this effect, I would like each every one of you to look at the existing framework, discuss the weaknesses, focus on an effective preparedness programme that is well define for everyone and that ensures there is this collaboration and effective communication throughout if ever such incident occurs again. Not only at the landfill, but anywhere else where there is a possibility for an incident to happen.”

On his part the Minister for Internal Affairs, Mr. Errol Fonseka, underlined the importance for such consultation, the need for a unifying command and why all networking must be align. He further stressed on the necessity for everyone involve to have the necessary training that will enable them to deal with incidents at this level.

“This is an important milestones in our endeavour to bring together our thinking and understanding of risk and preparedness of disaster management. This meeting demonstrates the political commitment of the highest level. The aim of this meeting today is to bring clarity ‘who is responsible for what?’ In such a complex undertaking under a crisis scenario, which disaster management is, this is the moment for such a question. Faced with an array of competing demands and pressures facing decision makers at all levels, it is crucial in crisis management and that commanders do take prompt decisions,” said Ministers Fonseka.

The Director General, Risk and Disaster Management (DRMD), Mr. Robert Ernesta during his intervention he explained the tactical requirement of Bronze and Silver level as well as their responsibilities. There was also a presentation on the Operationalisation of the National integrated Emergency Management Plan (NIEMP).

The opening discussions concentrated on the issues at the Bronze and Silver level where the participants from the different Ministries and agencies had the opportunity to put forward their challenges, proposals and the way forward.

Base on the deliberations, President Ramkalawan requested for a report with the necessary follow up actions and that before December 2022 there will be another meeting to review the status. The President also requested for a Master Plan for all landfills including the ones on Praslin and La Digue. He will also be attending the postmortem meeting in relation to the fire on landfill two.

The Head of State also called on Emergency Brigade and volunteers to come forward and join hands for such important causes where necessary trainings will be provided. 

As he concluded, he said, “I feel the engagement, concern and the will from everyone to ameliorate on the present issue. I have appreciate the different issues brought forward, be it the small agencies or large, you all have a role to play. I wish to call upon all organization/ agencies, you are all professionals, and all Ministers in your respective ministries relook at the disaster element more seriously and how there can be better coordination. How you can help other places, to give encouragement to other agencies such SFRSA and DRMD. Engage with other agencies, know their standard operating procedures. Where there needs to be trainings, action on it immediately. I would like to emphasise that risk management is what will stop a disaster from happening. As a country and we are all responsible for its safety.”

The meeting was attended by the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ted Barbe, Ministers, the Attorney General, Mr. Frank Ally, representatives of the Disaster Risk Management Division (DRMD), Seychelles Police Force (SPF), Health Care Agency (HCA), Public Health Authority (PHA), Seychelles Fire and Rescue Services Agency (SFRSA), Seychelles Ports Authority (SPA), Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA), Seychelles Defence Forces (SDF), Seychelles Meteorological Authority (SMA), Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs (MLGCA), Land Waste Management Agency (LWMA), Seychelles Infrastructure Agency (SIA), Seychelles Maritime Safety Authority (SMSA), Seychelles National Parks and Gardens Authority (SNPGA) and other supporting Ministries and agencies. 

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of State House – Office of the President of the Republic of Seychelles.