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266 houses to be demolished in eThekwini so Transnet can rebuild railway line after floods

Transnet Freight Rail chief engineer Ntsako Nukeri explains the damages caused by the recent floods around Mount Vernon, Klaarwater and other areas in and around Durban. As a result, trains are not functional. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency (ANA)

Transnet Freight Rail chief engineer Ntsako Nukeri explains the damages caused by the recent floods around Mount Vernon, Klaarwater and other areas in and around Durban. As a result, trains are not functional. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 13, 2022

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Durban - Transnet Freight Rail said 266 houses in Thornwood will be demolished to make way for the company to rebuild the railway line.

This was said by chief engineer, Ntsako Nukeri, at its container corridor media site visit on Thursday.

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Nukeri said: “266 houses to be executed have been identified in the Thornwood area. The MEC has been engaged to facilitate relocation while protecting the dignity of the affected.”

Transnet Freight Rail chief engineer Ntsako Nukeri explains the damages caused by the recent floods around Mount Vernon, Klaarwater and other areas in and around Durban. As a result, trains are not functional. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency(ANA)

The MEC for Human Settlements and Public Works, Jomo Sibiya, said they were mostly prioritising families living next to riverbanks and other inhabitable places.

“We remain committed to ensuring continuous engagements with all spheres of government and entities such as Transnet Freight Rail – as we are one government elected by the people. Officials from the department, working with Transnet Freight Rail, will work to find a permanent solution,” Sibiya said.

“We want to restore the dignity of a mother and a father, who, because of historical economic exclusion, remain low-income earners with no hope of a better salary and decent shelter.”

Transnet Freight Rail chief engineer Ntsako Nukeri explains the damages caused by the recent floods around Mount Vernon, Klaarwater and other areas in and around Durban. As a result, trains are not functional. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency (ANA)

Thornwood liaison officer Fana Buthelezi said he had heard talks about houses being moved.

“There were engagements with the Mariannhill Institute because they have a piece of land to have most houses moved there, especially the ones that were built close to the rails. I do not know anything further,” said Buthelezi.

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The eThekwini Municipality said: “The city cannot confirm nor deny this information. We are interacting with a number of stakeholders on a variety of issues, and this includes among others, Transnet.”

The company announced that 400 sites were damaged in the recent floods, and the rail network was in the process of regaining what it had lost. The recovery rate was sitting at 10%.

This setback had forced the company to close all its routes, as this tragedy was declared an emergency.

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The Transnet Freight Rail Chief Engineer Ntsako Nukeri explains the damages caused by the resent floods around Mount Vernon, Klaar water and other areas in and around Durban were washed away, as a results trains transportation around eThekwini region is not functional. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency (ANA)

“Most of their damaged sites are in Mount Vernon, Cavendish, Klaarwater, Thornwood, KwaDengezi, Delvillewood and Cato Ridge, to name a few,” Nukeri said.

He said they were going for the best designers to build rails that were sustainable. He also mentioned this work was not budgeted for, and the estimated cost of rebuilding was R1.7billion to R2.1bn approximately, with the duration being six to seven months.

“There is still a lot of work to be done. We are not looking at just fixing our rails; we are looking at improving them. We are looking at multinational civil engineers who will ensure sustainability is possible, and the rail network design office, together with the external survey and geotechnical testing team, are assessing the project sites to ensure everything goes accordingly,” said Nukeri.

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He said they were engaging with the eThekwini Municipality and MEC of Human Settlements in terms of the relocation of some houses for a full infrastructure repair on one of their sites.

Nukeri said some residents there had approached them and asked to be moved to other places because they felt unsafe.

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