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Cost of KZN flood disaster escalates

Premier of KwaZulu-Natal Sihle Zikalala. Supplied

Premier of KwaZulu-Natal Sihle Zikalala. Supplied

Published Apr 25, 2022

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Durban - Virginia Airport, which has become the joint operational centre for search-and-rescue teams in KwaZulu-Natal, was still a hive of activity on Sunday as teams continued to search for missing people thought to have been swept away during the floods.

Thousands of public servants, search-and-rescue officers, volunteers from all walks of life, non-governmental organisations, faith-based communities and the private sector were working around the clock to help KZN recover from the disaster, Premier Sihle Zikalala said on Sunday.

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Also on Sunday, a team was flown to Henley Dam near Pietermaritzburg to search for a missing person.

Statistics revealed by Zikalala showed that 17 438 households and 121 687 people had been affected by the disaster. The death toll remained at 435, with 54 people still missing. Approximately 6 278 people were currently homeless, and 55 people were injured during the floods.

The number of those who remained in shelters was 7 245 people in eThekwini and 245 people in KwaDukuza, and others were being accommodated in the Umzumbe, Ray Nkonyeni and Umdoni municipalities.

Zikalala said that at the shelters residents had received mattresses, hot meals and vanity packs from government departments and NGOs.

“Every blanket, every mattress, every loaf of bread, every spade and rake tells us we are a nation that cares. We are a nation that leaves no one behind,” he said.

Zikalala said the construction of temporary residential units had begun, with contractors on site in Ilembe District Municipality, and the Ugu and eThekwini municipalities.

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He said the department was finalising the assessment of some sites in Durban in terms of their suitability for construction.

“In the interim, our focus is to accommodate more than 4 396 families that are accommodated in halls, churches and schools.”

Zikalala said the largest amount of expenditure on rehabilitation, related to infrastructure, would be for the Passenger Rail Agency of SA and it would amount to R94340850000.

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has allocated R1 billion towards disaster relief interventions.

Zikalala said they will need more than R1.9 billion to complete all the work.

Electricians have been able to restore power in all High Voltage substations, and work is continuing at Bayhead, Mariannridge, Toyota, Mondi and Sapref power stations. Zikalala said that once procurement had been completed, the departments would be able to replace cables within 14 days.

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In Mariannridge, teams were still assessing the extent of the damage after the power station caught fire on Tuesday night.

“The port has gradually resumed operations and prioritised the discharging of cargo such as food, medical supplies, and petroleum products. Most road access in the province is now open, and once we return eThekwini to normal, we trust the neighbouring districts will resume normal operations over the coming days.”

He said Sanral working in partnership with the department and affected municipalities had already dispatched its consultants to conduct assessments on strategic routes such as the M4 in eThekwini, and R102 between eThekwini and KwaDukuza, R102 GJ Crookes, Ntuzuma Access Road/Thendele Drive P457.

“Consultants are assessing the extent of damages to our road network so the necessary interventions can be determined to speedily fix these routes. To support the efforts of normalising the situation and the environmental impact after the floods, the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs together with municipalities is implementing a clean-up campaign,” Zikalala said.

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