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eThekwini Municipality estimates damage to infrastructure in the recent storms which caused flooding in and around the city will cost about R50 million with the possibility that this might be highter as the city is still assessing damage in affected areas. This amount includes engineering-related costs as well as damage that occurred to properties such as collapsed retaining walls.
This was revealed in a report tabled at an Executive Committee meeting on Tuesday. According to the report, the heavy rainfall and strong winds that lashed the city on 10 and 11 March resulted in severe damage to houses, roads, infrastructure and public facilities.
Wards most affected included areas such as Kwa Mashu, Inanda, Ntuzuma, Phoenix and Verulam. Other reports were also received from Clermont, Kwa Dabeka, Quarry Heights and Palmiet. Many houses were flooded mainly due to aging infrastructure and the inability of the stormwater drainage systems to contain heavy water volumes thus causing damage to properties especially in areas of Kwa Mashu. In Amaoti, Inanda, many informal dwellings collapsed causing many people to be displaced, the report stated.
There were 104 incidents reported to the Disaster Management call centre which included two children being trapped inside a flooded house in Ntuzuma C section, burst water mains, damage to roads and a number of houses flooded. The tabled report stated that 72 displaced residents from ward 53 have been accommodated at the Amaoti Community Hall. Of the 788 complaints received related to roads and stormwater maintenance, 122 were complaints of damage to roads, 342 complaints of blocked inlets, 28 for blocked pipes with 22 sinkholes reported.
A Human Settlements Department team, consisting of inspectors and engineers, are currently finalising the assessment report. They will also be looking into providing medium to long term solutions for the displaced families as well as provided a detailed list of the affected houses that need to be rebuilt and apply for required funding through Treasury. Burial assistance will also be provided to the families of people killed during the heavy rainfall.
Chairperson of the Human Settlements and Infrastructure Committee Councillor Mondli Mthembu said this was a preliminary report with assessments still being conducted. A further updated report will be presented to the Executive Committee. He said the City will be discussing interventions to respond more effectively to disasters.
“The issue of partnerships with non-governmental organisations and others working in the relief sector must be established in order to respond more efficiently to disasters. There needs to be a platform to discuss disaster relief interventions before they occur and not only after the incident has occurred,” said Councillor Mthembu.
Regarding the drainage system in the City, he said the Engineering Unit has been tasked with developing a plan to present to his committee on how they will be dealing with the blocked stormwater systems. This comes as most of the flooding was caused by blocked stormwater systems. He said the plan will have a community-driven approach.
eThekwini Deputy Mayor Fawzia Peer said education in communities about blocked drainage systems was key.
“We were on site and saw some of the items people have thrown down the drains. The public needs to be educated to prevent the blocking of the system which in turn will prevent flooding during heavy rains,” she said.