The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) has conceded that their interventions in countering the recent floods that have battered the province were not enough, and more funding was needed to implement the mitigation plans.
Disastrous floods have hit the province in recent years resulting in deaths damage to the infrastructure.
Responding to the Sunday Independent on Thursday on how the provincial government was responding to the disaster and whether there were long-term plans to relocate people, KZN Cogta MEC Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi said that preliminary assessment indicated that the need for more funding to implement their mitigation plans.
“The disaster that has been experienced by KZN over the years differs from one incident to another. Relocating people may not be the best solution, according to our assessment. It's not only houses that are built in low-lying areas that have been affected. Even affluent suburbs have been affected by flooding, in areas such as Umdloti, Pinetown, Westville, Isiphingo, and Amanzimtoti just to mention a few.
“While we understand that, we are also aware that indeed some houses or homes were built illegally in disaster-prone areas. We engage with municipalities and traditional leaders who are responsible for the allocation of plots in urban and rural areas.
“However, this is a long process that requires extensive engagement with all affected parties. Whenever we engage these parties, we emphasize that people must avoid building in floodplain areas,” said Sithole-Moloi.
She said repairing of damaged infrastructure, was being undertaken by various municipalities: “As the department, we are supporting them through MIG and IDP programmes.”
The MEC added that her department had advised municipalities to ensure that they include the drainage system when they prepare the Operation and Maintenance budget.
Turning her attention to the Alfred Duma Local Municipality which experienced severe rain and flooding during the festive season and through the beginning of the year, she said: “We have made some interventions adding valves in the nearby dam, Qedusizi which was overflowing towards the CBD. However, our interventions are not enough given the recent flooding. We are engaging with the Water Affairs Department to look into ways of diverting water that is coming out of the nearby dams.”
On Wednesday, the South African Local Government Association (Salga) chairperson, Thami Ntuli called for a sense of urgency, as 40 people had died in the latest floods in the province, and five were still missing.
“We were caught by the issue of the financial capacity that even now municipalities are not able to easily access the grant which is supposed to assist them to maintain the infrastructure,” said Ntuli.
He added that they have made a call for the grant to be allocated to the municipalities, instead of them having to applying for it.
He said that one of the reasons for the loss of life, especially in rural areas, was that people built their homes in flood prone areas.
“We believe that needs to be a priority by all municipalities to make sure that they engage with the traditional leaders.
“So that whenever they allocate land for building houses to the people, they are not placed where it could be dangerous for them,” he said.
Parts of Ladysmith were again flooded after heavy rains last Monday evening.
The local mayor Zama Sibisi warned residents not to attempt to cross overflowing rivers during rains and floods.
“People must please take precautions and not risk the lives of the passengers. When a car crosses an overflowing river, the tyres lose balance because of the air filling those tyres. So they must not become victims of death when trying to cross,” said Sibisi.