The Durban Business Chamber of Commerce and Industry has called on the eThekwini Municipality to help small businesses affected by the violent storms. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency(ANA)

Durban - The Durban Business Chamber of Commerce and Industry has called on the eThekwini Municipality to help small businesses affected by the violent storms that have killed at least 32 people. 

Heavy rains swept through the greater Durban area from Monday night, leaving a trail of destruction. The heavy rain has claimed at least 32 lives, but the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube, said they expected the death toll to rise.

Businesses in Durban were also adversely affected as many employees were advised to stay home as many roads around the city were blocked due to flooding. 

The business chamber's chief executive, Palesa Phil, said they were sent the condolences to the affected families of those who had lost their lives as a result of the storm. 

She said many properties, including business properties, were damaged. 

“Any amount of rainfall in eThekwini on Tuesday onwards could lead to further flooding, as the ground is completely saturated.

“The resultant damage to property and loss of productivity, mainly due to ageing infrastructure and the inability of the stormwater drainage systems to easily drain rain water, is catastrophic and unsustainable,” Pali bemoaned.

Pali said the storms were proving to be a “massive risk” to the city's growth.

“Several businesses were forced to cease operations as a result of damage to property, low productivity (employees unable to travel to work) and the inability to transport and deliver goods and services to various destinations due to flooding and traffic congestion.

“This translates into poor turnaround times and inefficiencies that amount to significant losses for businesses. Over and above this, small businesses may not have adequate insurance to recover their losses, hence, jeopardising their existence and sustainability going forward. If these losses are not recovered, over time the local economy can suffer significantly,” said Pali. 

She called on the municipality to devise a plan outlining efforts to minimize socio-economic risks of heavy rainfall and a clear plan for infrastructure maintenance and development that will improve drainage and traffic congestion issues.

Sunday Tribune