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Residents on Durban's North Coast unite to fix roads, after having to drive on pavements

Paul Ramlall and Imtiaz Ismail, residents of La Mercy who are part of a task team to help fix the M4 bridge. Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo

Paul Ramlall and Imtiaz Ismail, residents of La Mercy who are part of a task team to help fix the M4 bridge. Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo

Published May 25, 2022

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Durban: North Coast residents have been forced to drive on pavements after a significant part of Genazzano Road in Seatides washed away during the weekend floods.

The road is frequented by La Mercy, Desainagar and Seatides residents who fear that if a further collapse occurs, they would be trapped.

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Nazir Sadack, Tongaat resident and member of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), said: “If the roadway, which is currently very shaky, gives in, we will all be trapped. Currently we have stopped all heavy-duty trucks from going through. We are only allowing motor vehicles to pass what is part roadway, part pavement.”

Sadack said some of the road had washed away during the April floods. It was not repaired and the bank further collapsed over the weekend, following heavy rains.

“On Saturday evening we had the roadway collapse with a vehicle also falling in. We managed to rescue the driver and thankfully there were no injuries.

“Through the evening we found that the sand was washing away under the road and, as of Sunday morning, we had the entire roadway collapse.”

Residents on the North Coast are forced to drive on the pavement after a section of Genazanno Road in Seatides washed away during the floods at the weekend. This road is used by schoolchildren as well as residents of Tongaat and La Mercy. Some of the residents in the area said they feared that should the road be further damaged, they would be trapped.

He said La Mercy and Desainagar were without water or electricity after the floods but eThekwini officials were on site to restore services.

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“Water is the number one issue now. To service the community of Seatides, we managed to secure Jojo tanks. There are about six stations where people are filling from. We also have sponsored bottled water that we have provided for residents.”

Preneshan Moodley, a resident of Seatides who has been living in the area for 10 years, said it was the worst flood devastation he had seen.

“To see such a major part of the roadway cave in was not only heartbreaking but also scary. I use this road every day and it is horrifying to think I could have been driving with my 9-year-old daughter when this happened.”

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Nolene Reddy, a resident of Desainagar, said the situation was challenging.

“We used to be able to go through Genazzano Road, but now that it has been damaged it is difficult for us to access food or water supplies. It is really heartsore and we are trying to reach out for help.

“We are a small town so I don’t want us to be overlooked. There are a lot of elderly people and babies in our community who need food and water. We are desperate for any sort of supplies.”

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Reddy’s home was also damaged.

“The April floods loosened that sand in our front yard and part of our wall collapsed, damaging some of the pipes. So, all of that damage is now worse. Our entire bank in the front yard has collapsed into our neighbour’s yard.

“There are four houses that share a boundary wall that have also collapsed. One of the walls collapsed on my mum’s car, so the windows were shattered. We had to move from one side of the house to the other. The power line has also fallen. So, there’s no power, no water and no sewerage services on our street.”

Leeshen Heeralall, a La Mercy resident, said his area was without water or electricity and that he felt trapped.

“All major routes in and out of La Mercy have been destroyed. We feel stranded and urge the government to urgently attend to the area.”

Arlene Cairncross, chairperson of the Seatides Ratepayers Association, said a task team had been created to get help from the city.

“The damage from this weekend could have been avoided if the city had attended to the initial damage following the first floods.”

Meanwhile, La Mercy resident Paul Ramlall is part of the task team helping to fix the M4 bridge at the La Mercy lagoon which collapsed during the April floods. Preliminary work on the bridge began on Monday.

“Our ratepayers jumped into action and created a task team to help in disaster areas. I am on the team together with engineers, geologists, architects and operators. We did a quick feasibility assessment and engaged with the municipality which indicated that the road belongs to the Department of Transport.

“We engaged with them and they told us that it was number 3 out of 44 on their priority list but they had to wait for funding from National Treasury. La Mercy residents then engaged with the MEC who said she would be able to give us the machinery but we had to provide the material.”

Ramlall said they managed to fund-raise and preliminary work had already started.

DA ward councillor Geoff Pullan said major damage had occurred in the area.

“Two bridges have collapsed - Tongaat River bridge and the M4 bridge in La Mercy. On the roads front, we lost another portion of road on the M4 in front of the old Boys and Girls Town. There is a 30-metre-deep canyon and a 40-metre gap across.”

He said Westbrook Beach, North Beach Road and Bellamont Road in Umdloti, which were damaged in the first floods, experienced further damage.

“Bellamont Road had to close yet again. Homes were flooded and washed away in Umdloti and Tongaat, three informal settlements were affected as well as the Westbrook retirement village.”

He said displaced people were being housed in community halls.

“The city is aware of the damage. They are a bit slow but they have been on the ground. They are busy working on getting water and electricity in Genazzano Road.”

Msawakhe Mayisela, spokesperson for eThekwini Municipality, said the city was aware of roads and other infrastructure that were damaged during the recent heavy rain.

“We are currently assessing the extent of the damage and an undertaking through Co-operative Governance was made to the effect that efforts are going to be doubled to restore basic services and infrastructure.

“Already, our teams are working hard to clear roads that were blocked, and some roads are now accessible. We are appealing to members of the public to be patient while we are doing everything in our power to meet their needs.

“Please also note that under most of our roads runs water and electricity infrastructure, so when roads are affected, service disruptions will be experienced by those living in the area.”

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