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KZN flood damage cost mounts to R25bn

Damage caused during the floods in KwaZulu-Natal. Picture Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Damage caused during the floods in KwaZulu-Natal. Picture Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Published May 12, 2022

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DURBAN - KWAZULU-NATAL Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) has said the cost of damages to public and private infrastructure after last month’s floods, adds up to R25 billion.

The department said the devastation was difficult to comprehend with more than 400 lives lost including: 386 in eThekwini

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  • 31 in Ilembe
  • 7 in Ugu District
  • 4 in King Cetshwayo
  • 3 in Harry Gwala
  • 2 in uMgungundlovu
  • 2 in uMzinyathi

It said 48 people were still unaccounted for, while the lives of 77 600 people were severely disrupted, 7 286 homes were destroyed and 12 062 homes partially destroyed.

Cogta MEC Sipho Hlomuka said R1bn had been allocated to the province to deal with flood-related damage.

“We have not received the allocated funds.

“However, we are in talks with provincial and national Treasury on processes we need to follow to receive those funds,” said Hlomuka.

He said the department had to restructure its budget to accommodate the flood damage.

To date, disaster management teams have conducted 748 search operations and more than 168 rescues.

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“Disaster management teams are still on the ground and continue to provide support for relief purposes and are searching for the missing,” he said.

The floods also destroyed critical infrastructure that brings water, electricity and sanitation to many communities.

Hlomuka said technical teams from affected municipalities had been working round-the-clock to restore the supply of these services to communities.

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With rising concerns about the expected time frames for water infrastructure to be repaired, Hlomuka said that water supply restoration had improved to between 70% to 80% in most regions and 40% to 45% in the northern region.

Hlomuka said because restoration of water had progressed in most areas, the focus would now be on the protection of resources to minimise deterioration.

“Most water resources (rivers) in eThekwini district have been found to have a significantly high percentage of water contaminants (mainly E.coli) due to raw sewer spillages owing to water treatment works infrastructure damages,” he said.

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He said this increased the risk of a potential outbreak of waterborne diseases such as cholera, hepatitis, typhoid fever etc.

“We are appealing to communities to exercise extreme caution when dealing with water from rivers,” he said.

EThekwini deputy mayor Philani Mavundla detailed the extent of the damage to the sewer infrastructure during a recent interview with The Mercury.

Mavundla, who is also the chairperson of the city’s human settlements and infrastructure committee, has been leading the efforts to reconnect services.

He said since the floods, the city had faced the risk of environmental disaster due to sewer pollution.

He said they feared that where the pipes had been damaged, sewage could leak into streams and rivers close to those areas, thereby contaminating that water and environment.

“Eighty percent of our sewer infrastructure was damaged and or washed away.

“The pollution started on the day of the disaster, and we are faced with a serious challenge.

“There are some areas where we have been able to bridge (repair infrastructure) and there are areas where we have not been able to do so,” he said.

Water and sanitation expert Neil MacLeod said while he had not seen any extensive damage, there was a risk if the infrastructure was damaged.

He said the sanitation infrastructure was divided into the treatment works and the pipes in the ground – if the pipes were damaged, it could lead to ground contamination while if the treatment works were damaged, it could lead to contamination of rivers and beaches.

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