Much needed rains bring relief, destruction to SA

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Pretoria – While the recent rains have brought much needed relief from the crippling drought, prolonged torrential rains have destroyed property and infrastructure in some parts of the country.

The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) on Thursday said Gauteng, North West, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), Free State and some parts of the Northern Cape and the Eastern Cape have received rain, accompanied by rain associated with the ex-tropical cyclone Dineo, which affected parts of Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KZN.

Cogta Minister Des van Rooyen, in his capacity as the political head of disaster management, visited the North West on Tuesday to assess the extent of the damage caused by the rains and how it has impacted communities.

Following his assessment, Minister Van Rooyen called on sectors and municipalities to plan for infrastructure that is sustainable.

“Disaster teams should plan ahead of time for natural occurrences like the one that we have seen in our country,” said the Minister.

The Minister also observed that the bulk of infrastructure in the province is not compatible with the severity of such emergencies and that needs to be taken into consideration when planning for development. He also highlighted the importance of maintaining infrastructure as a risk reduction measure.

The Minister visited a number of areas and families in the Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality that were affected by the heavy rains. He saw first-hand some of the mud houses that collapsed, which also led to the unfortunate loss of life, roads that were destroyed and areas that were no longer accessible.

In one of the affected areas which he visited, Gelukspan, the Minister called on provincial and local authorities to ensure that measures are put in place to restore flood water diversion walls.

He commended the leadership of the province for having acted speedily to assist those in distress and to ferry others to safety.

“It is this rapid response from provincial disaster teams that assisted to save many lives.

“We are, however, deeply saddened by the loss of lives that accompanied the rains in this province and we convey our deepest sympathies to the loved ones of the six people who were confirmed to have lost their lives due to floods,” said the Minister.

Minister urges caution

As confirmed by the Department of Water and Sanitation, dam and river levels have increased.

The Minister warned communities, especially those residing next to rivers and dams, to be cautious.

The Department of Water and Sanitation will maintain high vigilance on the dams and rivers in provinces where rains are continuing and will continue to advise communities.

“Some bridges and roads are damaged beyond repair and communities are requested not to use such infrastructure, as it can lead to injuries and fatalities. Those who are sometimes stuck in traffic due to the damaged roads and bridges, should exercise patience as work is underway to repair and bring the situation to normalcy

“In some areas, it will take time for water to subside. This may lead to other unintended consequences like diseases, and communities are requested to exercise caution,” said the department.

Minister Van Rooyen will continue to visit other provinces affected by the recent heavy rains to assess the damages and work with provincial and municipal authorities to normalise the situation for communities. -

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