Government assisting Port St Johns community

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Local residents currently housed at the Port St Johns Youth Centre, after severe floods recently damaged private property and public infrastructure in the area, have welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa's visit to the area on Tuesday to assess the level of damage caused. 

The OR Tambo District Municipality in the Eastern Cape was affected by torrential rainfall over the past week which caused flooding resulting in loss of life, displacement of communities and damage to infrastructure.

Severe weather which the South African Weather Service had issued early warnings on 22 and 23 March, affected communities in Port St Johns, Ingquza Hill, Nyandeni and King Sabata Dalindyebo Local Municipalities.

Vuyolethu Goleni, a local resident, told SAnews she was happy that the President came to see for himself the conditions they are living under.

“I am confident that our roads are going to be repaired and those people who lost their houses will be assisted,” Goleni said.

Echoing the same sentiments was Israel Solani who told SAnews he was confident that the damaged roads will be repaired soon.

“We need that road to be repaired as it makes it impossible to move freely to the other side as the remaining part is also not safe as it can collapse at any time,” Solani said.

Visiting the flood ravaged areas on Tuesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said government was doing everything in its power to assist all those affected. 

The President said government departments were working together to assist flood victims.

"Government is doing everything in its power to restore all the roads damaged by the floods and to ensure that our people have shelter,” President Ramaphosa said.

President Ramaphosa said the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) will assist in rebuilding the damaged bridges.

“What happened here affects all of us. As government we are going to ensure that our people get the necessary help they need. We want investors to help us with the building of a Smart City here,” President Ramaphosa said.

The President's visit began with a welcoming by senior provincial government officials, after which he was briefed about the situation in the area.

From there, the President conducted a walk about to assess damage on the R61 road which links Mthata and Port St Johns which was severely damaged by the floods.

Whilst there, President Ramaphosa also met with SANRAL officials who briefed him on the damage.

According to the officials, the work to repair the road will start soon.

At the Port St John's Youth Centre, the President assured residents that various government departments are working together to restore the lives of people affected by the floods.

“Our government is taking care of our people by building shelters and ensuring that they have food. Government is gearing into action to assist the affected communities,” President Ramaphosa said.

Government has activated a Special Intergovernmental Committee on Disaster Management to provide support and relief to the affected communities.

Teams comprising national, provincial and local spheres of government have been assessing the damage and providing emergency support in the form of shelter, food, blankets and other essentials.

President Cyril Ramaphosa was accompanied by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Thembi Nkadimeng and Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane to interact with residents and other stakeholders. –