Millions needed for eThekwini disaster recovery, more than 1000 houses have been assessed for damage

A man stands next to a house damaged by the recent storm in Durban.

Inanda north of Durban was one of the areas hardest hit by the recent storm. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo

Published Jul 7, 2023


Durban - A Report detailing the extent of the damage caused by the recent storms in Durban has revealed that eThekwini Municipality will need close to R280 million to fix damaged homes and infrastructure.

The figure is preliminary as the true extent of the damage following heavy rainfall that lashed some parts of Durban last Tuesday, is still being assessed.

Members of the executive committee were briefed on the damage yesterday, detailing extensive work that needed to be undertaken to repair roads, bridges and electricity infrastructure. It also detailed the humanitarian support being offered to the victims.

The storm damage report was compiled by the City’s disaster management and emergency control unit.

Deputy city manager (DCM) for community services Dr Musa Gumede told councillors that the change in the weather and the resultant scale of the damage had taken them by surprise.

“This had started while an exco meeting was under way. We were here and the warning had been placed at level 2, but that was upgraded while we were in the meeting,” said Gumede, adding that because of this, information did not get to where it needed to as quickly as it should have.

The interim report on disruptive rainfall confirmed that 11 people had been confirmed dead and no one was considered missing.

According to the report, 1 019 houses had been assessed, and 3 031 people were affected. Of those affected, 1 761 were adults and 1 270 were children, but the figures could change.

“It must be noted that assessments were conducted in various wards, and incidents are still coming.”

Detailing the summary cost implications by each unit, the report said that R287m would be required to attend to some of the damage.

The Engineering Department requires R114m, Human Settlements R83m, Health requires R1.3m. Parks, Recreation and Culture is in need of R10m, Water and Sanitation requires R75m and Electricity needs to get a financial injection of R2.1m.

The report proposed several recommendations that were approved by the executive committee, included granting authority to the affected departments to begin procurement processes to rehabilitate affected infrastructure, reprioritising budgets to fund the cost of the damages and for the mayor’s parlour to provide burial assistance to those who had lost loved ones.

It further called for the disaster unit to be provided with its own funding that would be ring-fenced to respond effectively to disaster rather than waiting for the money to come from elsewhere.

This call was supported by councillors who said it made sense for the unit to have funding ring-fenced for them be able to respond quickly as natural disasters were becoming more frequent.

DCM Gumede said the proposal to ring-fence money for disaster response was a directive from the provincial government.

ANC councillor Nkosenhle Madlala said while this was a positive step, it was important for mayor Mxolisi Kaunda and the chief financial officer, Dr Sandile Mnguni, to engage with National Treasury to ensure that such action would fall within the ambit of the law.

Councillor Zama Sokhabase raised the issue of communities living in dangerous areas which made them vulnerable to storm damage.

She highlighted the community in ward 101 that had been affected by disasters before and were not spared this time.

“The community was affected and moved, but some moved back and they rebuilt again (and were affected by the storms again). We should not allow them to come back and rebuild again.”

The report said the eThekwini human settlements unit had called for the relocation of about 360 families that were affected by the floods and living close to streams, saying options should be explored, including buying land near Cato Crest or purchasing a building.

DA councillor Thabani Mthethwa said the party recognised that this was a natural disaster, but they were concerned about inadequate resources allocated to the disaster management unit, adding that this affected how the unit responded to disasters.

“The municipality can’t rely on NGOs and other entities to support victims of disaster. In 2019, the executive committee resolved to conduct an audit of all the stormwater and drainage systems to ascertain the infrastructural readiness for floods. That audit has not been done and management must account for that …

“It is easy for eThekwini to get flooded,” he said.