Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
The recent torrential rainfall pulverised an already battered and bruised KwaZulu-Natal, affecting more than just people’s bank accounts. A staggering 443 people lost their lives in the province, and approximately 48 people are missing or unaccounted for.
With this said, according to President Cyril Ramaphosa, the government is now rising to the challenge.
Heavy rainfall and flooding have also been experienced in the Eastern Cape, particularly in the districts of Alfred Nzo, Joe Gqabi and OR Tambo, where roads, bridges and houses have been extensively damaged, especially in the Port St Johns’ area.
Not escaping the destruction, the Amajuba District Municipality also holds impacted areas, namely Utrecht. The small Northern KwaZulu-Natal town sustained substantial damage during the persistent weather.
On Monday, 18 April 2022, the Amajuba District Municipal Mayor, Cllr Vuselwa Bam, and the municipal disaster management units from both municipalities visited affected homes.
“The team visited a total of 22 households that were affected by the heavy rains. The households were assisted with temporary shelter, blankets, sponges and hot meals. Furthermore, relevant departments were recruited to assist individuals whose documents were lost or damaged by the floods,” states the Municipality’s Communications Unit.
Moreover, the team has concluded assessments of damaged infrastructure, including asphalt roads, gravel roads, and bridges in most wards.
Furthermore, the flooding has also disrupted fuel and food supplies throughout the province.
Areas located close to rivers and waterways – particularly informal settlements – were severely impacted, and many dwellings were swept away.
During his speech, Ramaphosa added that nearly 4,000 homes had been completely destroyed, and over 8,300 homes had been partially damaged.
It is estimated that these floods have displaced more than 40,000 people.
Due to the extent of the damage the rain has caused, Ramaphosa stated that after a special session on Sunday night, 16 April 2022, it was decided to declare a National State of Disaster.
But what does this mean to the average Newcastillian?
According to the President, the government will be addressing the disaster in three phases.
These are as follows:
- Firstly, the government will focus on immediate humanitarian relief, ensuring that all affected persons are safe and their basic needs are met.
- Second, they will focus on stabilisation and recovery, rehousing people who have lost homes and restoring provision of services.
- Thirdly, government will focus on reconstruction and rebuilding. This will not only involve the construction and repair of major infrastructure. It will also involve the construction of houses in suitably-located areas and measures to protect the residents of these areas from such adverse weather events in the future.
Likewise, Ramaphosa highlighted, “The Department of Human Settlements has begun an assessment of damages to houses across the province, and has determined initial requirements for the provision of temporary accommodation, repairs to damaged houses and the replacement of destroyed houses.”
Preparations are also underway to provide temporary residential units, and it is expected that construction of these should begin by the end of this week.
Financial assistance through a voucher system is being made available to assist households in rebuilding partially damaged houses.
Adding to this, a national team of project managers and engineers have been deployed in the province to assess the damage and to advise on the rebuilding.
The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure is identifying suitable state land that can be used for resettlement. The President adds, “Infrastructure South Africa is working with relevant departments in all spheres to provide technical support for the repair and rebuilding of infrastructure such as roads, bridges and schools that have been damaged.”
The South African National Roads Agency is the lead agency on the extensive work required to repair roads in the province, starting with an immediate focus on the N2 and N3 highways.
Detailed work is underway to assess and quantify the damage to roads and bridges. To date, around 1,300 road repair projects have been identified by the agencies involved.
Progress has been made in restoring operations at the Port of Durban, opening alternative routes for trucks to access the port terminals and clean up debris in the harbour.
The Department of Small Business Development is mobilising funds to assist small businesses that have been affected by the floods. Looking at the mammoth task ahead, Ramaphosa said, “It is going to take a massive effort, drawing on the resources and capabilities of the entire nation, to recover from this disaster. We will make financial resources available to meet this challenge.”
According to the President, the Minister of Finance has said that R1 billion is immediately available, and he will be approaching Parliament for the appropriation of additional resources.
Moreover, Ramaphosa will also be approaching the Presiding Officers to request a Joint Sitting of Parliament next week to ensure that the elected representatives of South Africans can be directly involved in oversight of the work that is needed to provide relief and to rebuild.
A comprehensive assessment of the economic cost of these floods must still be made. But it is clear that it will run into billions of Rands.
What are your thoughts on the above-mentioned? Share your views in the comment section below.
Images: Supplied by Amajuba District Municipality