Fire damage cost unknown

Insurance investigators and engineers will assess damage to the construction site for the new Emergency Medical Services building at Dora Nginza Hospital today after it was set alight on Wednesday night, allegedly by angry residents.

Provincial health spokesman Siyanda Manana said the construction site, earmarked to be a new state-of-the-art headquarters for EMS in Nelson Mandela Bay, would be closed until further notice.

He said at this stage it was not possible to say when construction would resume or what the cost implications of the fire would be.

“There is a lot of damage. It is really extensive,” he said.

The building was due to be completed by October next year. Currently, EMS headquarters are in Lindsay Road across the road from Livingstone Hospital.

“The cause of the fire remains unknown. We will be in a better position to comment after investigators have completed their work,” Manana said.

Police spokesman Andre Beetge has linked the fire to ongoing protests over construction contracts for the multimillion-rand project for the new headquarters and a training college.

Residents from Zwide and New Brighton have been protesting for weeks about jobs at the site going to people from outside the area.

Beetge said the fire had started at about 6pm when protesters gained access to the site and set wooden building material and equipment alight.

Security guards tried to extinguish the fire but the wind fanned the flames and it was quickly burning out of control.