Durban - EThekwini Municipality has managed to restore some critical infrastructure that left several communities without water and electricity for over a week after the devastating floods that claimed over 400 lives in the metro alone.
The roads and water infrastructures such as main pipes and reservoirs and bridges collapsed leaving many communities and hospitals without water for days while other areas were inaccessible.
Msawakhe Mayisela, spokesperson for the municipality said as of Friday, the city had managed to restore 60% of areas in the inner and outer west regions (Westville, Pinetown to Hillcrest) while 50% in the central and north regions were restored.
Mayisela said in the south, the damage occurred on the Umlazi Canal Pipeline which affected water supply in many parts of the southern region.
“Our teams are currently on-site laying a temporary pipeline and this work will be completed by this weekend.
“The floods also damaged our water treatment plant in oThongathi which has affected the supply of water in the entire area. This infrastructure requires a full upgrade which will take approximately six months.
“As an interim measure, we are procuring a package plant that will enable us to purify raw water from the source. Working with Umgeni Water, we are also planning to utilise Hazelmere Dam as an alternate supply,” he said.
On the electricity outages, he said the rain had destroyed many sections of the infrastructure. He said there was a drastic increase in the volume of faults, recording roughly five times more than what they would receive on a normal day.
“While we have been able to restore power in all our High Voltage substations, work is continuing at Bayhead, Mariannridge, Toyota, Mondi and Sapref power stations. In Mariannridge, our teams are still assessing the extent of damage after the power station caught fire on Tuesday evening.
“At Toyota, we are expecting that the process of cleaning the power station and testing will be completed over the weekend. The process of replacing damaged cables at Mondi and Sapref is moving with speed as we have already issued orders to contractors.
“Once the procurement has been completed, we will be able to replace the cables within 14 days,” he added.
The City was praised last weekend for fixing the South Coast Road in record time which is the main entrance and exit to Umlazi township.
The road had collapsed completely causing major delays on alternative routes due to floods.
Mayisela said the municipality was working day and night to repair roads, with the priority being those that serve large communities and those that enabled the repair of other infrastructure such as electricity.
For the road usage, he said the city had had to relax some by-laws to allow cargo trucks to use alternative roads to make a way in and out of the port.
“The port has gradually resumed operations and prioritised discharging of cargo such as food, medical supplies, and petroleum products.
“This after we approved the relaxation of by-laws to enable an alternative route to and from the port after the Bayhead Road, a traditional entrance to the port, gave in. This move was key in preventing food and fuel shortages.”
Mayisela said the waste collection has not been fully resumed in all residential areas, however, it has resumed in all business premises. He said there were still challenges in accessing some households where road infrastructure was being repaired.
On the economic impact, he said the estimated loss was over R700 million with over 1 150 businesses affected.