Coast KZN

12 May 2022

Early disaster warning system to be installed in KZN, Cogta says

Jehran Naidoo (The Mercury: IOL) Picture: Mercury. Early disaster warning system to be installed in KZN, Cogta says

Durban – The Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CODTA) in KwaZulu-Natal said this week that the province will be receiving a new early disaster warning system. Cogta MEC Sipho Hlomuka said on Wednesday during a media briefing that the system will be installed at the Provincial Disaster Management Centre at Mkondeni, in Pietermaritzburg.

Hlomuka said the system will be procured and installed in the 2022/2023 financial year.

“This is a multi-year project that will involve both hardware and software and its purpose will be to receive early disaster warnings and feed this information to other stakeholders, including municipalities,” Hlomuka said.

Talks of the new system come in the wake of the recent floods that flattened the province, claiming 445 lives in its path.

South Africa – Durban – 13 April 2022 – The Umgeni River in flood. The M4 bridge which conects Umhlanga to Durban.Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency (ANA)

Prior to heavy rains that caused the flooding a month ago, the South African Weather Service said it sent the provincial disaster management teams warnings on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday. SA Weather forecaster, Wayne Venter, told IOL on Thursday that the organisation currently has a system called the “Impact-based warning” system. Venter said it has been implemented for around 18 months. He said if their systems detect anything noteworthy, an email, sms and in some cases, a WhatsApp notification is sent to the disaster management team.

“The system tells us the impact of what is expected to come. We have a level one to a level 10 on the system. Ten being the most severe and one being the least.

“We have a really good relationship with disaster management in each province. If we have a warning to give, they will get the same warning three times.

“So for the recent flooding, there was a warning sent on Saturday. Sunday and on Monday. On Monday, that warning was upgraded to a level eight  – before that it was at a five,” Venter said.

The question at this point is why will the province need a new system if the old one did its job prior to the flooding in KZN?

We have posed the question to COGTA and are awaiting their response.