Flood-hit KZN municipalities classified as disaster areas

22 January 2024 - 10:01
By Sakhiseni Nxumalo
Heavy rains in KwaZulu-Natal have left a trail of destruction affecting households, businesses and public infrastructure such as schools, roads and bridges. File photo.
Image: Supplied Heavy rains in KwaZulu-Natal have left a trail of destruction affecting households, businesses and public infrastructure such as schools, roads and bridges. File photo.

A number of municipalities hard hit by devastating floods in KwaZulu-Natal have been classified as disaster areas amid calls for the president to declare a state of disaster for parts of the province.

Co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) minister Thembi Nkadimeng said the decision by the national disaster management centre to classify some municipalities affected by floods as disaster areas enables them to expedite the repair of damaged infrastructure.

These include Uthukela, iLembe, Ugu, Umzinyathi, and eThekwini metro.

According to the Disaster Act, this classification will enable municipalities to reprioritise their budgets and focus on repair projects. 

It will also facilitate access to additional funding from provincial and national departments for infrastructure repair forroads, bridges, and households.

The department said the classification was done while processing for the declaration was underway. 

It said this would allow repairs to start as quickly as possible.

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Nkadimeng, accompanied by her deputy Parks Tau, KZN Cogta MEC Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi, district and local leadership visited the areas affected by floods in Ladysmith, Uthukela district, on Friday. 

Uthukela district is one of the hardest-hit municipalities with 26 fatalities recorded due to inclement weather.   

Nkadimeng said while the disaster teams are finalising the assessment for the entire province, preliminary reports indicate it has suffered billions in damage. 

She said at this stage more than R2bn worth of infrastructure damage has been recorded in the Uthukela district. This includes roads, bridges, schools and households. 

Nkadimeng said the decision regarding the declaration of a state of disaster rests with the president, who will make a determination once the province has completed its assessment. 

“The persistent rains have unfortunately caused delays in our repair efforts and assessment as our teams are still on the ground. However, we appreciate the efforts made by municipalities such as eThekwini metro and in Uthukela, which has already initiated repairs using their available budget. 

“We have assessed damage in areas like KwaDukuza, Indwedwe and eThekwini, among others. As you drive along you could see the devastation caused by the rains. We are also aware the storm is not over yet, which is also worrying,” said Nkadimeng.

Nkadimeng said along the N11, bridges have collapsed and dams in the Ladysmith area require urgent attention.

Sithole-Moloi said they would urge President Cyril Ramaphosa to support calls for a state of disaster because the municipalities cannot afford the repairs.

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