Durban - The eThekwini Metro has been slammed for not moving fast enough in cleaning out stormwater drains in oThongathi, following last month’s floods.
About 250 people had to be evacuated in oThongathi and from Tehuise care centres after the weekend’s inclement weather.
Ward 61 councillor in oThongathi Dolly Munien said on Sunday was exactly 42 days since the recent floods struck and the weekend’s inclement weather had once again battered her area.
“While there’s been no loss of life reported, I am still waiting on reports from the informal settlements but my area has been hit badly like the last time. If eThekwini had cleaned out the stormwater drains from the last floods, we wouldn’t be in this situation again today (Sunday),” she said.
Munien said residents who had to be evacuated from their homes were being housed in two halls as well as a temple.
“We had to help evacuate an elderly resident in the rain in a wheelchair.”
She said tap water had just been restored in the area after more than 35 days, following damage caused by the floods last month.
But municipal spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said Munien’s sentiments were incorrect. While accepting the criticism, Mayisela added that at all times especially during the rainy season, they doubled their efforts in cleaning stormwater drains.
“We must take into account that we are in the grip of climate change and the rains we are getting are abnormal. There is no stormwater drain that could withstand the amount of rainfall we have just received whether it’s last month’s floods or this weekend’s inclement weather. We appeal to communities to guard against disposing objects into our stormwater drainage system.”
By on Sunday afternoon, there had been no fatalities or missing people reported as a result of the weather, according to Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Sipho Hlomuka, who briefed the media on government intervention and efforts.
“The following care centres were also affected: 190 people were moved from Tehuis to Wema Hall and we are providing them with relief including mattresses and blankets; 44 units at Waterways Retirement Village in oThongathi were evacuated to St Catherine. The Westbrook Retirement Village was also evacuated. The Ilembe District was hugely affected with a number of families left homeless and the road network infrastructure severely impacted.”
He said that relief interventions were still ongoing to ensure that all community halls with displaced people received adequate relief assistance, social support services and medical assistance.
“In the event that flood-prone areas need to evacuate people due to rising water levels, the open halls will be able to accommodate them.”
Ganas Govender, the councillor for ward 69 – which includes Bayview, Havenside, Mobeni Heights and parts of Lamontville – said the heavy rains within a short period of time had brought many difficulties and emotions to communities.
“Many have lost their homes, leaving them to stay in community halls or with friends and family. This residential temporary arrangement is difficult for many. There are secondary and new infrastructure damages that are frustrating our residents, especially those who need to get to work,” he said.
Govender said the current financial situation and ageing infrastructure in eThekwini also did not help.
“The delayed response of municipal service to ratepayers of this metro is also frustrating residents – and the dismal economic growth of this municipality. The metro has to better plan for future disasters and upgrade our ageing infrastructure.”
IFP proportional representative councillor in Phoenix, Jonathan Annipen said he had received reports of localised flooding, with a number of houses flooded.
“Some families in the informal area had to be evacuated; local community halls have been made available and some of those who have been affected have gone to relatives for temporary shelter. In addition, I think the major problem is the repairs of the damage from the previous floods have been (affected) by the current situation and it’s going to interrupt services, with increased electricity faults being reported by residents with a slow turnaround time,” Annipen said.
On Saturday night some areas were already in danger of being flooded with warnings being issued to all communities, especially in the southern part of Durban, the Durban Basin which includes areas such as uMlazi, Wentworth, Isipingo, Amanzimtoti, and Westbrook, as well as the northern area including uMdloti and oThongathi.
According to the City, there was water and mud on the M7 in both directions between the N3 and the Hans Dettman highway, while water was streaming down Caversham Road where temporary repairs had been carried out.
Mayisela said Stapleton and Eden roads in Pinetown were flooded along with the Stapleton Road off-ramp from the M13. He warned motorists not to use the M7 due to mudslides and flooding.