eThekwini urged to find permanent accommodation for flood victims

Flood victims were moved into properties at Conway Farm in oThongathi on November 10, 2022. File Picture: Thobeka Ngema

Flood victims were moved into properties at Conway Farm in oThongathi on November 10, 2022. File Picture: Thobeka Ngema

Published Jul 2, 2023


Durban — The Ad Hoc Joint Committee on Flood Disaster Relief and Recovery has called on the eThekwini Municipality to find permanent accommodation for flood victims and was also encouraged by the progress made by the Umgeni Water Board in rehabilitating the Nagle aqueducts.

Days ago, the committee conducted oversight visits to some areas in KwaZulu-Natal that were impacted by floods.

The oversight visit was to give the committee an opportunity to have a clear understanding of the extent to which the government has been able to provide assistance to the province towards flood disaster relief and recovery from the 2022 floods and establish the amount of damage caused by the recent 2023 floods.

Committee co-chairperson Cedric Frolick said that the committee had urged the eThekwini Municipality to find a permanent solution regarding accommodation for flood victims.

On Thursday, the committee visited a compound that serves as temporary emergency accommodation in Frazer outside oThongathi where flood victims who were moved from shelters were temporarily accommodated.

“The committee noted that while the compound offered privacy to the 118 families that are accommodated there, living conditions are unfavourable. There are challenges regarding safety and the provision of water and electricity at the temporary accommodation site,” Frolick said.

He said that the committee welcomed and appreciated the clarification by the local representative from the KZN Department of Social Development regarding the provision of various forms of assistance by the department to the flood victims.

The committee also visited a temporary emergency accommodation at Astra Building on Russel Street in the Durban city centre. The committee was informed that about 320 families were accommodated in the building and the plan was to move them to a permanent place of residence after the lease expires in 24 months’ time.

The families were moved to the building in November 2022.

“The committee was not provided with satisfactory information about the costs of renting the building over a 24-month period. Key grievances that were raised by the residents included the lack of food and jobs,” Frolick said.

He said that the committee urged the officials responsible to attend to these grievances and report back to it within seven days.

However, Frolick said that the committee was encouraged to see progress on the construction of the Umlazi and Berm access road that was destroyed during the April 2022 floods. The municipality informed the committee that it plans to complete the project at the end of July 2023.

He said the committee was pleased that its recommendation of the signing of a memorandum of agreement and understanding between the municipality and the Department of Transport in the reconstruction of the road yielded positive results. It encouraged the municipality to have a holistic approach to its stormwater drainage problems as opposed to focusing on just one area.

Frolick also said that the committee was also pleased with the completion of the Tongaat Water Treatment Plant rehabilitation project within the stipulated time frame of 105 days. The completion of this project ensures that water flows through to the residents of the eThekwini Municipality. The damage to the Tongaat Water Treatment Plant after the floods created major challenges for the residents of eThekwini who had to rely on water tankers for water.

He also said that the committee notes that the need to restore the plant’s functionality within the shortest possible time has led to unanticipated pipe bursts from both the bulk supply and reticulation sides, leading to insufficient water supply despite operating at full capacity. The committee further notes with appreciation the technical constraints around increasing the plant’s capacity. Furthermore, the committee calls on the Department of Water and Sanitation to look into the matter, especially from the abstraction licensing point of view.

“The committee is encouraged by the professional and qualified officials who are ensuring that construction in these areas is finished on the stipulated dates and within the allocated funding,” Frolick said.

Frolick also said that when the committee began its three-day oversight visit to KZN, it was encouraged by the progress that was made by the Umgeni Water Board in the rehabilitation of the Nagle Aqueducts 1 and 2 which were damaged during the April 2022 flood disaster. The committee visited the rehabilitation sites and noted the good progress made. The rehabilitation of these aqueducts ensures that raw water flow from Nagle dam through to the Umgeni Water’s Durban Heights water treatment plant so that the residents of eThekwini Municipality can receive water.

He said that the committee has also appreciated the forthrightness of the eThekwini Municipality on the challenges it has experienced due to corruption in its supply chain management processes which have impacted negatively on the supply of water to areas that were affected by the floods amongst other challenges. The committee has urged the municipality to come up with a permanent solution to the water challenges in order to avert opportunities for corruption in that space.

Frolick said that the committee also received and appreciated a consolidated report from the province on progress made in relation to specific sectoral issues it raised during its previous visit to the province. The province was encouraged to respond to the committee's specific unanswered queries in writing by Friday, June 30, 2023.

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