Communities warned against building in low-lying areas near rivers

Friday, November 11, 2022

KwaZulu-Natal Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) MEC, Sihle Zikalala, has warned communities against building structures in low-lying areas that are near rivers, as this poses a great risk to them and their families.

This comes after heavy downpours, which left several houses in low-lying areas damaged, when the uMsunduzi River burst its banks and flooded the surrounding communities.

Zikalala joined the leaders of uMgungundlovu District and uMsunduzi Local Municipality on Thursday, in leading mop-up operations in Peace Valley, which bore the brunt of heavy rains with several households submerged in water.

“We are grateful that no life was lost in this incident but are gravely concerned about the welfare of the communities that reside in areas that are deemed unsafe since they are prone to flooding and other weather-related incidents.

“The impact of the incident does not only stop in Peace Valley but other communities around Pietermaritzburg have also been affected and our teams are deployed to assess the extent of the damages in these areas. So far the exact number of people affected cannot be given as teams are still busy,” Zikalala said.

He said the Provincial Disaster Management Centre will continue to work closely with the affected municipalities to ensure that relief is rolled out to the affected communities.

Zikalala noted that the province is prone to weather-related incidents, especially during the spring and summer seasons.

“We all share a responsibility in ensuring that we heed the weather warnings issued by the South African Weather Service so that we can protect ourselves and our families.

“We also strongly believe that it is now time for households located on riverbanks to consider relocating. Weather patterns have changed drastically and flooding is becoming more frequent and severe,” the MEC said.

Meanwhile, KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, has expressed her heartfelt sympathies with the people of uMsunduzi whose houses were flooded during heavy rains.

She called on disaster teams to provide immediate assistance to families affected by heavy rainfall, emphasising that priority should be given to children who are currently writing exams, the elderly and families that are currently homeless.

The Premier called on all citizens to remain vigilant and to be on full alert, as “we are in the season of unpredictable weather conditions induced by climate change which are threatening human lives.”

She commended the disaster management teams, including councillors and mayors, who were the first responders.

“We thank the Almighty that no deaths or casualties have been reported so far, but the Provincial Government will continue to closely monitor developments and provide ongoing support to the affected communities including socio-psychological support where appropriate,” Dube-Ncube said.

The flooding incident comes as the province is hard at work rebuilding infrastructure and restoring services that were disrupted during the April and May floods. –