Margate businesses hard hit by recent storm

Heavy rains and strong winds have battered parts of the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast including Margate and Uvongo. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/Independent Newspapers

Heavy rains and strong winds have battered parts of the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast including Margate and Uvongo. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/Independent Newspapers

Published Apr 18, 2024


Margate businesses, which suffered serious losses during the devastating flash floods that lashed the town on Sunday, are picking up the pieces to prepare for the steady stream of tourists expected during the June holidays.

In the clean-up operation, the business sector has been joined by community members and volunteers who have joined forces to rebuild damaged businesses and infrastructure in the battered South Coast town.

The KwaZulu-Natal South Coast tourism hot spot suffered damage to business infrastructure, roads and the town’s beachfront area.

Ivor Shead, owner of One-Stop Mobile Mechanic, a car repair shop in Margate, said he had lost everything due to the floods.

“I had nine vehicles and a trailer that were washed away from my workshop. My workshop has been completely destroyed and I have lost my livelihood.

“I am in need of help because from where I am now, it will take more than a million rand for me to get my business started again.”

Shead said he was in the process of looking for alternative premises.

“I have to start somewhere. It’s a small business and actually this is what I use to support my family. I need to look at buying tools, other electronic equipment and diagnostic machines.

“To have some money, I’m trying to do on-call repairs. It’s about the only thing I can do currently.”

Dick Basday, president of the South Coast Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the damage caused by the floods in Margate would cost millions of rand to repair.

“The damage to infrastructure, communities and businesses has been severe.

It will cost millions of rand to get this infrastructure fixed and businesses running again.

“The major issue is the stormwater drainage system has not been repaired or maintained, and this is what has caused stormwater to overflow and that is why the damage was so extensive.“

Basday said assessments were still being conducted on the damage caused to the infrastructure and business.

“It will take a while before we know the true cost of the damage to businesses. We thank communities and businesses that have come on board to assist with clean-up and mop-up operations.”

Zodwa Mzindle, mayor of the Ray Nkonyeni Municipality, said the municipality was doing its best to assist with the situation.

“Information is being formally collected and we request communities to liaise with their councillors so that all the necessary and relevant information is obtained.

“We wish to also confirm that the overflowing of rivers creates heartache for affected businesses, which has negative implications on the individual lives of owners, employees and the overall local economy.”

Mzindle thanked all those who have assisted so far, including businesses and government.

Stephen Herbst, from Tidy Towns Shelly to Margate, said they have been working hard to ensure that clean-up and mop-up operations are under way.

“We believe that the beach is in a better condition and we anticipate that people will be able to get to the beaches.”

Herbst added that unfortunately the damage would take time to repair.

“It’s the first time we have experienced rain like this and have had so much damage. We do feel that our infrastructure needs to be repaired so that it is able to withstand a huge amount of rain.

“We had an enormous amount of rain that caused this damage, but we hope future disasters can be prevented by repairing infrastructure.”

South Coast Tourism and Investment Enterprise (SCTIE) said the Margate CBD was hit hard by the recent flooding.

“Both the Ugu District and Ray Nkonyeni Municipality, along with volunteer groups and community members, have worked tirelessly to clean the beach and the town to enable them to assess the damage and, where possible, to start the repair work.

“Most of the CBD businesses and those down at the popular Margate beachfront have managed to reopen, and fortunately the many tourism establishments and other businesses in the surrounding area remain unaffected and are open for business.”

SCTIE said that businesses, including Wimpy as well as informal traders, were operational.

“There are extensive clean-up operations under way in Margate. To ensure the safety of all visitors to the region, certain beaches on the KZN South Coast have been closed temporarily due to debris.

“These include Hibberdene, Umzumbe, Southport, St Michael’s, Uvongo, Manaba, Margate, Ramsgate, Trafalgar and Port Edward. Other beaches in the Umdoni area are open for bathing.”

The Mercury