DURBAN - ETHEKWINI mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said that officials should conduct an investigation into the causal factors that led to extensive damage to homes and infrastructure in uMdloti during the weekend rains and last month’s floods.
He was commenting after concerns were raised by councillors during an Exco meeting on Tuesday that the developments in the uMdloti area could be to blame for the massive damage the area had suffered during the recent storms.
DA councillor Nicole Graham proposed during the meeting that the city conduct an inquiry to determine why the area was so badly impacted by the rains.
The area has been one of those hardest-hit by the recent rains: buildings have collapsed, and roads and infrastructure including the waterworks, were washed away.
The Mercury reported on Tuesday that following the rains, residents said they had been stunned by the extent of the damage.
Residents Pam Connor and her neighbour and friend, Stephanie Spence, who have lived in uMdloti for decades, said they have never seen such damage to the area due to rain.
The residents alleged that the bulk of the flood-related damage, especially the mudslides that have cost many residents their homes, were related to the removal of vital vegetation in the area due to developments being constructed.
According to a post shared yesterday, some residents planned to hold a protest today to share their concerns about the developments and their alleged link to the flood damage.
Graham said before the city could invest millions of rand restoring what was damaged, it needed to find out why the damage was so extensive.
“The residents have said that part of the problem were the developments that have been happening in the area. It does not help us to invest millions to fix the damage without finding out what was the cause,” she said.
Graham proposed that the city should stop some of the projects that were happening amid concerns by the community that they were responsible for creating conditions that allowed the damage to be so extensive.
Councillors agreed that it was important to find out what led to the disaster, and to find out if the projects under way were responsible.
Kaunda said the city should find out if there were factors that had led to damage being worse than it should have been, and whether the developments taking place there had exacerbated the situation.
He said stopping any projects in the area could not be a political decision, and that it could attract legal action from the developers concerned.
Kaunda said the councillors did not have the authority to stop projects, but they could request the officials to conduct an investigation as to the causal factors of the disaster.
Deputy mayor Philani Mavundla, who also chairs the Human Settlements and Infrastructure Services committee, agreed that it was not possible for the council to stop the projects, stating that such a move could attract court action from the developers.
Mavundla said the approval of projects involved an extensive process, and therefore were very hard to stop.
“We can’t just wake up and stop developments.”
He added that the city could investigate what led to the disaster in that area, as it had the capacity to do that.
“If you ask us what happened in the south (Durban South area), we can tell you in detail what happened because our engineers have done the assessment,” he said.
On Monday, the municipality appealed to uMdloti residents to be patient while it was doing “everything in our power to meet their needs”.
“Efforts are going to be doubled to restore basic services and infrastructure. Already, our employees have cleared roads that were blocked in the area; now some roads are accessible,” said eThekwini spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela.