ETHEKWINI NEWS FLASH
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
16 October 2017
 
Executive Committee Decisions
 
Update on City Relief Efforts and Repairs to Affected Resindents and Damaged Infrastructure During Recent Storm
An update on the damage caused by the inclement weather experienced in eThekwini last week as well as the City’s interventions to assist affected residents was provided at a special Executive Committee meeting held today, 16 October.
 
The estimated cost of the damage amounts to about R300 million.
 
Future plans to expedite assistance and improve the City’s response time during disasters was also discussed.
 
Vincent Ngubane, head of the Disaster Management Unit presented the report to members of the Executive Committee.
 
He said the beginning of October marks the start of the summer and storm season adding that since the beginning of the month the Municipality has experienced inclement weather conditions. This has resulted in damage caused to shopping malls, CCTV fibre routes, roads, bridges and houses, with electricity, water and sanitation affected as well as injuries and the loss of lives through drowning.
 
Ngubane said strong gale force winds affected the Municipality on 16 September causing damage to households and infrastructure. Further inclement weather wreaked havoc in many parts of the south region on 10 October, he added.
 
He said 2 934 households were affected by the weather last week with assessments still ongoing in parallel with relief interventions to affected communities.
 
Ngubane said a number of organisations including non-governmental, community-based and religious organisations as well as private businesses stepped in to assist; providing food hampers, hot meals, blankets, mattresses, hygiene packs, fresh produce and clothing to affected residents.
 
Halls were also used to accommodate displaced residents, with 65 people accommodated in uMlazi D-section, 53 people in uMlazi Q-section, 60 people in Montlcair, 167 people in Tehuis, uMlazi and 40 people at the Bluff Library. Hot meals were provided by the Disaster Management Social Relief Technical Task Team.
 
Regarding fallen trees, Ngubane said tree feller teams from the Parks, Recreation and Culture Unit have attended to 230 trees with three staff members working on a 24-hour standby roster.
 
“Calls were also received regarding roads and storm water with 724 calls regarding blocked inlets received, 54 calls regarding landslides, 67 calls about damaged roads and 135 calls regarding potholes received. Furthermore, 52 calls about missing manhole covers were received with 49 calls about road closures and roads that have washed away.”
 
Ngubane also listed major damage incurred to 22 roads in the South and South Central regions.
 
“The bulk of this work is routine maintenance work and the cost is covered by the operating budget. Most of the work is expected to be completed in two weeks. Councillors are being consulted on the nature and extent of the repairs that are necessary. A programme of work will be prepared when the full extent of the damage is known,” he added.
 
During his presentation Ngubane also provided detail on affected areas regarding water and sanitation and whether supply has been restored and the estimated cost of repairs for each repair work which totals R2.3 million.
 
He said 3 000 households were affected but interim water supply measures were implemented.
 
Work to be undertaken by the Electricity Unit was also outlined. The Human Settlements Unit has planned interventions amounting to R250 million. This includes subsidies for housing to be providing by the Department of Human Settlements to the value of R194.7 million and assisting informal settlements with the construction of semi-temporal structures of prefabs for R13.37 million.
 
The Cleansing and Solid Waste Unit has a number of affected depots with the estimated cost to repair damages amounting to R1.39 million, said Ngubane.
 
The report was noted by the Executive Committee.
 
EThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede said she visited a number of affected residents with a provincial and national delegation to see first-hand the damage that the storm caused.
 
She thanked Non-Governmental Organisations, Community Based Organisations, private businesses, councillors and volunteers for providing assistance to affected residents.
 
She said a number of officials will be heading to affected areas in the City to further assist with clean-ups, education and whatever else that needs to be done to assist those already on the ground working. They will be leaving City Hall at 8am on 17 October. Media are invited to cover the event.
 
Mayor Gumede said all clusters of the City would be on the ground tomorrow.
 
“We are a caring City and will show this. All preparations must be done today to ensure we are ready for tomorrow. We must also urgently address the issue of those who have built on the flood plains through our Human Settlements Unit.”
 
City Manager Sipho Nzuza said City leaders would be visiting families who lost loved ones during the storm and would be assisting financially with funeral arrangements.
 
He also said the process to access funds to respond during disasters would be reviewed to ensure the City responded timeously to those in need.
 
“We will be reviewing this process to ensure we are still within the ambits of the law and not going against the Municipal Finance Management Act. However, when people experience this kind of disaster we need to act quickly,” he said.
 
Chairperson of the Governance and Human Resources Committee Councillor Barbara Fortein said the City’s call centres were inundated with calls resulting in delays in speaking to consultants.
 
She said to address this the City would be getting an additional 100 phone lines.
 
Deputy Mayor Fawzia Peer who is also the chairperson of the Security and Emergency Services Committee said the City was prepared and ready to respond during the disaster. Councillor Peer said further lessons were also learnt to ensure the City was even more prepared in the event of another disaster.
 
“We have to thank those who came alongside us and provided blankets and mattresses and food to those in need. Some private businesses went to move and transport trees that had fallen down during the storm. We were all on board together. The City did well during this disaster and we will be even better prepared if there is another disaster in the City,” Councillor Peer added.
 
ENDS
 
Issued by the eThekwini Municipality’s Head of Communications Tozi Mthethwa.
 
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