Durban: The residents of Nellie van Rensburg Road in Queensburgh have signed a petition for the road to be closed. They have claimed that the structural integrity of the road had been compromised during the floods.
The residents have further claimed that the City had ignored their request for help despite repeatedly asking.
During the floods, the sandbank at Queensburgh Primary School collapsed on the road and damaged part of a residential home.
Following the incident, the residents said stormwater drainage pipes on the bank have still not been repaired and this could cause further damage.
“The water drainage from the school sandbank is seeping from under the road into private properties, posing a life-threatening danger to learners, pedestrians, residents and all road users,” read the petition that was signed by 22 residents last week,
“It is reported by residents that sinkholes are forming on driveways. This raises the alarm for us residents to prevent a second disaster from occurring. The structural integrity on Nellie van Rensburg Road is compromised and needs urgent intervention by government authorities.”
In the petition, residents also alleged that the school structure was compromised and was unsafe for pupils to occupy.
“The school caters to almost 500 pupils of which a majority are from underprivileged homes and the school does not have insurance to immediately repair the damaged sandbank.
“This was mentioned by the school principal, Dr NG Reddy, and members of the school governing body at a meeting at the school recently.
“A recent structural engineer’s report confirms and declares this building unfit for occupation. The school confirmed notifying the Department of Education. Residents were refused a copy of the report.”
The residents will only accept the reopening of the road once the relevant authorities repair it.
“On completion, government authorities must provide resident representatives with reports from civil/structural engineers confirming unequivocally the road and sandbank is safe to all. The public demands full disclosure from all relevant departments.”
Vee Mohanlall, who is spearheading the petition, submitted the document to Mxolisi Kaunda, the eThekwini Mayor, last Thursday. He said he appealed to the mayor to intervene as they have not received assistance from the other government departments. Mohanlall said he still awaited feedback from the mayor’s office.
“We are sitting here with a ticking time bomb. Authorities are doing nothing. We tried to get a tractor digger here to sort out the sandbank but there are sinkholes everywhere. From the surface, it looks safe but underneath is where the problems lie. Once weight is placed on the road, sinkholes appear the next day.”
Mohanlall, whose home was partly damaged after the sandbank collapsed, said he, fellow residents and members from the Malvern Community Policing Forum helped clean the area.
“My insurer will restore my property to its original state. However, the root problem that caused this disaster remains unattended to. My biggest concern is the stormwater drainage, the remaining sandbank on Nellie van Rensburg Road, and the stormwater pipes from which all the stormwater is spilling onto the road. This poses a major threat to pupils, residences, pedestrians and all motorists.”
The principal said he was not mandated to deal with the matter and referred POST to the Department of Education for comment.
Muzi Mahlambi, the spokesperson for the Department of Education in KZN, said: “We are trying to attend to the damage as fast as we can. During the budget speech, the MEC indicated that it was a three-pronged approach to handling the floods, which needed the help of the community, government and other stakeholders. That said, there are relevant departments that deal with different aspects of the damage.”
He said that so far their department had been focusing on schools where learning had been affected.
“We have put in mobile classrooms and assisted with cleaning. We wish we had all the money in the world to attend to all the schools immediately but this is not so. Queensburgh Primary is on our list. We have not forgotten about them. We just ask them to be patient.”
Mbulelo Baloyi, the spokesperson for the Department of Human Settlements and Public Works in KZN, said: “The stormwater and roads department is part of the engineering section of the municipality.
“It is possible that the two partially-damaged homes form part of the more than 7 200 partially-damaged homes that we received information about and such homes, once assessed, will be assisted with building material vouchers.
“That process is still ongoing. It is the eThekwini Municipality that will be responsible for the disbursement of those vouchers to qualifying eligible flood damage victims. For now, the minimum amount per damaged house is R10 000 but since the damage will vary, hopefully, some of the homeowners would also top it up with their household insurance.”