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During January, torrential rains wreaked havoc across much of KwaZulu-Natal. Sipho Hlomuka, the KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), explains that the province suffered an estimated R5.5 billion in damages, and over 30 people died.
With inclement weather leaving a trail of death and destruction in many parts of the province, Hlomuka notes that the uMgungundlovu District was one of the hardest hit.
In addition, many communities were still reeling from the effects of COVID-19 and the July social unrest when the storms hit.
Coming to the aid of many, amid the chaos, Eskom Rotek Industries stepped in to assist 1000 families from the Msunduzi (Pietermaritzburg), Umngeni (Howick), and Inkosi Langalibalelele (Estcourt) Local Municipalities, all of whom had been impacted by the inclement weather, the pandemic, and civil unrest. This is in response to the government’s call to assist in Rebuilding the Nation.
Eskom Rotek Industries (ERI) and Eskom Transmission Delivery (TDP) hosted an official handover of the donation at Pietermaritzburg City Hall on Tuesday, 15 February 2022, donating R1 million worth of groceries to the affected families.
The event places a strong emphasis on the project’s jurisdictional areas in Pietermaritzburg, Howick, and Estcourt.
During the event, Hloumka said, “As the government, we have been able to respond quickly to weather-related incidents through strategic partnerships with stakeholders, such as business and social partners.”
He went on to say that disasters strike with little warning and that the ability to respond quickly can mean the difference between life and death.
“As a province, we are blessed with vibrant social partners who understand their responsibility whenever a disaster hits our province. Through partnerships, we have been able to respond quicker.”
Hloumka emphasised that Eskom’s donation on Tuesday is significant and affects many people’s lives in the affected communities.
“When we witness such donations, they remind us about the importance of Ubuntu,” he elucidated.
“We appreciate the vision that the Eskom leadership has had in responding to the plea from our communities who were in desperate need of relief. We strongly believe the example that Eskom is setting is one that many businesses should follow.”
Hlomuka adds that the government is committed to collaborating with companies such as Eskom to ensure that relief reaches communities.
“We also wish to appreciate the investment that Eskom has made into the province, through building and upgrading the Ariadne-Venus 400kV line, which is an impressive feat of modern engineering that passes through Richmond, Msunduzi, Umngeni, Mpofana, and Inkosi Langalibalele local municipalities.”
The R1.2-billion Ariadne-Venus 400kV line was started in September 2016, suspended in April 2019 due to multiple community-related challenges, and is now in its final stages after being re-started in October 2020 with an expected completion date of May 2022.
The Ariadne-Venus Line will run for about 123 kilometres through the uMgungundlovu and uThukela District Municipalities, affecting the towns of Pietermaritzburg, Estcourt, Howick, Richmond, and Mooi-River.
The final construction of the transmission power line’s 47-kilometre leg will begin at the existing Venus substation in Estcourt and end at the Ariadne substation in Pietermaritzburg.
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