MEDIA BRIEFING ON REBUILDING EFFORTS IN THE WAKE OF KZN EASTER FLOODS
BY HON. S. HLOMUKA
KZN MEC FOR COGTA
DURBAN: 11 JUNE 2019
Ladies and gentlemen of the media
Thank you for availing yourselves for today’s media briefing.
The purpose of this engagement is to give an update on the progress we are making towards rebuilding people’s lives and infrastructure following the devastating storm that wreaked havoc in the province of KwaZulu-Natal and left a trail of destruction in its wake over Easter.
You will all recall how on Monday, 22 April 2019, as we returned from the long Easter weekend, we woke up to the news of a terrible tragedy caused by a natural disaster that adversely affected various communities in the eThekwini, Ilembe, Ugu and King Cetshwayo municipalities. The ferocious storm that led to more than 70 deaths had its epicentre along the coastal areas of KZN, primarily in and around eThekwini where most casualties and damages to property occurred.
We know it as a matter of fact now that the damage that was caused on infrastructure, including houses, roads, power networks, schools and health facilities, was quantified to the figure of R1,1-billion, with eThekwini alone accounting for over R650-million of the damages caused.
Since the incidents occurred, we have had to respond as government through the provision of emergency support. We assisted all those affected in terms of temporary shelter, including providing them with food, blankets, mattresses and immediate necessities. We responded to the injured, we attended to the bereaved families, including by ensuring that they are assisted to lay their loved ones to rest in dignity and provided with post-trauma counselling. All of these efforts required resources as part of the immediate interventions. So we began spending money as soon as the disasters occurred.
We then assigned teams which visited every affected household to conduct detailed analysis of the damages caused to personal property as well as public property. This then informed the decision by the then Premier, Honourable Willies Mchunu and the Executive Committee in the fifth administration to declare the province a disaster area. We approached the National Government and indeed the responses have been very fast and various departments are starting to work with us to respond to the outstanding infrastructural issues.
Today I can report that most of the affected residents whose houses were flooded and others who were evacuated and rescued as part of our proactive interventions have returned home and their lives are now back to normal.
We however, still have some of the storm victims who are accommodated in shelters, owing to the fact that they cannot be returned to the areas they lived in because the land is not suitable for habitation (due to being prone to flooding). Others had their homes completely destroyed. We are aware that the city is hard at work at identifying suitable replacement land for them.
We will be visiting the Burlington community hall today to update the citizens on the work we are doing to get their lives back to normality.
Today we want to announce that through the collective effort and coordination by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, an amount to the tune of R90.8-million has been made available through the approval by the national Department of Human Settlements for eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality to expend:
- 3-million on 772 transitional housing units
- 1-million to assist 3017 households with building materials to rebuild their homes, and
- 3-million for relocation costs where it is deemed necessary.
I can also announce that today, as some of you may be aware, my colleague, MEC for Social Development, Honourable Nonhlanhla Khoza, is engaging with the families of those who lost their loved ones and handing over a once-off support grant to each family to the tune of R20 000 and in total amounting to R1.44-million.
Similarly, our Department of Transport is assisting toward the rebuilding of road infrastructure and municipalities continue to reconstruct access roads where necessary.
Clearly we are hard at work and we are determined to put this tragedy behind us. We are dedicated to the long-term recovery of areas affected by this disaster, helping to restore and recreate safe and healthy homes and communities. We continue to appeal to the insurance companies to assist their insured clients timeously.
By working together, we can ensure each and every one of our neighbours can return to a safe and healthy place of living.
I have just concluded a session with the good Samaritans who selflessly came on board and helped us to fast-track emergency relief efforts. They included NGOs, private businesses and ordinary citizens. We continue to be humbled by these gestures of ubuntu and all the efforts that have been made to mitigate the suffering of the disaster victims. We also extend the word of appreciation to the media fraternity for the work you have done to tell the tale of the unfolding tragedy and to inspire everyone to support our citizens in need.
Let us all continue to work together to ensure that we do not leave anyone behind and that we help all those affected to recover swiftly. Until every family and individual affected by the disaster is back in a safe environment and able to continue with their lives as normal, our work is not done.
Once again, we wish to thank the humanitarian agencies, the media, the national, provincial and local disaster emergency and response teams, the security agencies, medical personnel and all members of the public who have shown exemplary acts of compassion and care to the victims and affected families in providing assistance and support, both moral and material.
We pledge to continue to work with all of these stakeholders to ensure that all lives disrupted by this tragedy will eventually return to normal.
I thank you!
For more information contact: KZN Cogta spokespersons Lennox Mabaso, 082 884 2403; or Senzelwe Mzila 082 474 1882