CAPE TOWN - A committee of the National Council of Provinces on Wednesday called for national and provincial governments to move with speed to declare KwaZulu-Natal a disaster area following the floods that ravaged parts of the province.
China Dodovu, chairperson of the select committee on cooperative governance and traditional affairs, water and sanitation, said the declaration of disaster would ensure that the necessary funds were unlocked to assist the flood-ravaged communities.
“We hope the local, provincial and national government will move with speed, in the spirit of cooperative governance as encapsulated in the constitution, to initiate the process to unlock necessary funding to assist the people of KZN.
“We are also calling for the speedy repair of critical infrastructure to ensure that the people receive water and sanitation in the affected areas,” Dodovu said.
He made the statement as President Cyril Ramaphosa is set to visit the province to conduct an assessment of damage.
It was reported the provincial executive council has resolved to request the province be declared a disaster area.
Dodovu said he noted with despair the loss of life, the destruction of property and livelihoods, and the general impact the storms have had on access to essential services such as water and sanitation.
He also said there was an urgent need to put in place mitigation strategies to avert the annual recurrence of such disasters.
“For example, there is a need for improved town planning and building processes to ensure that communities reside in areas that are relatively safe from mudslides,” he said.
Dodovu urged businesses to contribute to the humanitarian efforts to assist the communities they operate in.
“At the centre of these calls is the need to ensure safety to communities and also to ensure that economic recovery which is essential for the sustenance of livelihoods in the affected areas is unlocked,” he said.
Meanwhile, transport portfolio committee chairperson Mosebenzi Zwane also called for immediate intervention by all spheres of government to the infrastructure challenges caused by bad weather there.
Zwane said it was important for the provincial and national governments to immediately intervene and ensure that poor people do not suffer due to damaged roads and houses.
“The committee is concerned with the damage particularly on the road network in one of South Africa’s economic hubs. Although the country should come to expect the infrastructural damage due to conditions that are symptomatic of climate change, infrastructure damages should be attended to with speed,” he said.
The floods have caused extensive damage to houses, road network and other facilities such as graveyards and internet connectivity infrastructure.
Zwane said they appreciated the work that the government and its entities were doing in the transport sector.
“The government ought to act with speed and avoid a situation where KZN roads and transport infrastructure damages become an impossible backlog to deal with,” he said.
Zwane said the committee would conduct an oversight visit in the province after the Easter weekend.