DURBAN - The storm that lashed KwaZulu-Natal Province this week revealed deep fissures in the state of rail and civil infrastructure, particularly in the town of Amanzimtoti, where submersion in water inundation resulted in extensive damage to both.
It came onto the heels of more destruction a few years back.
This was lamented by South Durban Business Forum deputy president Andre Beetge(cor) and Metrorail KZN regional manager Dumi Dube.
They pointed out the extensive damage to infrastructure in the town eManzimtoti which made the town unable to cope with the coastal stormwater. The town was therefore submerged in water whenever there was another storm.
Beetge said the infrastructure needed an overhaul as it was built almost half a century ago.
“It’s a pity business cannot do anything about this and have to turn to the government for assistance with the infrastructure as it is the government’s competency,” he said.
Metrorail services were suspended earlier this week on all operating corridors, especially between Clairwood, Merebank and eManzimtoti Stations which were flooded. The signals and points that safely operated the movements of trains were inoperable, even when done manually.
The river broke its banks and flooded the CBD, leading to some people being evacuated. It also filled the railway station, making it impossible for train commuters to go to work. Schools, too, were closed.
“Three years ago, KZN experienced unprecedented flooding in the South Coast even on the areas where we had already invested in new civil works and rail tracks,”
This was alluded to by Beegte who said the town was trying to recover from the 2016 and 2017 storms: “Even though this was not as severe as the one suffered in 2017. This one may be 50 to 70% of the the one suffered in 2017.”
eManzimtoti was among the hardest hit towns as the CBD was flooded and rendered the town inaccessible and cut off. Beetge said that the town’s main road, Rockview Road, was washed away.
“This will cost millions of rand to fix which we do not have.” said Beetge, who also doubles as the DA councillor and belongs to the Democratic Alliance(DA) in the area.
In 2016, storms carved a huge hole in the N2 highway at the entrance to eManzimtoti, and damaged a bridge used by cars and motorists.
In Andrew Zondo Road, formerly Kingsway, a hole has ripped through a wall on a bridge that forms a barrier between a pedestrian walkway and car lanes.
The storm on October 10, 2017(date cor) saw the town’s roads severely flooded, including on the N2 between Amanzimtoti and M7 Bluff, with a mudslide near Doonside and several other roads in the area closed off.
When Durban was hit by the storm in 2017, it disrupted the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s five-year multibillion rand modernisation programme which included LED signals, axle counters for train movement, fibre optics for the train communication that were set up as part of the ambitious R13 billion signalling upgrades.
The agency said the programme, which was in its final stages of the Durban to Pinetown corridor, was suspended. The extent and cost of repairs to the damages following the category 3 storm that struck Durban that year would cost in excess of R200 million.
Line assessments continue and commuters and stakeholders will be informed about when services are expected to resume.