How government plans to respond to KZN floods

How government plans to respond to KZN floods

With no end in sight for the 2022 KZN floods, we take a look at the impact to date using information from various government departments.

Speaking during a media briefing on Friday, Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi took stock of the fact of just how many people have lost their lives, houses, properties and other personal belongings as a result of the floods.

“Many people have become homeless, especially women and child-headed homes,” said the minister.

“Mud houses, settlements located close to rivers and waterways have been severely affected and some houses and shelters have been swept away. Informal settlements were among the most affected,”

According to Kubayi, a preliminary assessment report from the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Human settlements indicates that more than 13,500 households have been affected by the KZN floods.

In addition, just over 3,927 houses have been destroyed while 8,097 houses have been partially destroyed.

Summary of households affected by the KZN Floods | Picture: Supplied

“As I was interacting with the affected families in the places we have visited today and having seen the devastating conditions they found themselves in, I could not imagine the kind of pain they were going through,” added the minister.

“All I could think about was, what we as government can do as quickly as possible to bring some relief to the people of KwaZulu-Natal. The least we can do, as government, is to ensure that we move very quickly to bring tangible solutions to affected families,” she added.

“We cannot recover the lost lives but we can ensure that the survivors of these devastating floods are given some relief, through the provision of shelter and other social amenities.”

R1bn from Human Settlements

The minister stated that funding had been reprioritised in line with Section 6(a) of the Division of Revenue Amendment (Dora) Bill 2022 in order to ensure immediate response by government.

“This has allowed that the human settlements grants mentioned above be reprioritised to alleviate the impact of the disaster. To put this into effect, a [list of] revised cashflows were submitted to National Treasury on 14 April 2022 and positive response has been received.”

The minister further confirmed that the payments will be processed next week and that this will allow an amount of approximately R1 billion to flow to the province from the National Department of Human Settlements.

Finance minister Enoch Godongwana confirmed the availability of this funding in an interview with Newzroom Afrika on Friday morning.

Over R143m from eThekwini

Minister Kubayi added that for the 2021/22 financial year, eThekwini has two sources of funding it can immediately tap into, namely, the amount of R539,143 from Urban Settlements Development Grant (USDG) and an additional amount of R143 million that was recently allocated to the Informal Settlements Upgrading Grant (ISUPG).

“Consultation is underway to request that these amounts be reprioritised to address the current disaster.”

Contributions and pledges from Human Settlements entities

Employees try to clear mud at a flooded garage in Ispingo KwaZulu-Natal after recent flooding in the area, 13 April 2022. Picture: Jacques Nelles
Employees try to clear mud at a flooded garage in Ispingo KwaZulu-Natal after recent flooding in the area, 13 April 2022. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Community Schemes Ombud Service (CSOS) – R30 million of the balance of the retained surplus the 2020/21 financial year subject to approval by National Treasury.

National Homebuilders Registration Council (NHBRC) – support the KZN province in conducting technical assessments to determine the extent of structural damage to homes as well as a reprioritisation of its operational budget to provide for Corporate Social Investment (CSI).

Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA) – R100 million from the Residential Rent Relief Grant will be reallocated to the disaster relief endeavors, subject to requisite approval processes.

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National Housing Finance Corporation LTD (NHFC) – R150 million from the Residential Rent Relief Grant will be reallocated to the disaster relief endeavours, subject to requisite approval processes.

The NHFC will also contribute an additional R 2million from their Corporate Social Investment (CSI).

This means that in total, the NHFC will contribute R 152 million. This entity will also avail its project management capacity for the rebuilding and reconstruction of houses in KZN.

Kubayi stressed that in order to bring relief to the affected areas and households, these interventions have to be swift and of acceptable quality.

“We will do everything in our power to ensure that resources we put up for the disaster relief reaches the intended beneficiaries and are used for the intended purpose.

“In this regard, the Auditor General’s office will work closely with us to keep a close eye on the utilisation of the resources. The Department of Monitoring and Evaluation will be working closely with us to monitor both the financial and the non-financial performance of this intervention.”

Minister Kubayi’s reassurance comes after members of the public expressed their concern via social media that funds allocated for KZN floods disaster relief may be misappropriated.

Dramatic footage has shown houses collapsing, substations washing away, and cars and buildings under water. Phil Magakoe/AFP
Dramatic footage has shown houses collapsing, substations washing away, and cars and buildings under water. Phil Magakoe/AFP

“You will recall that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and last year’s July riots, there has been a shortage of building materials in the KwaZulu-Natal province. We call on suppliers to redirect the material supplies to the province so that we can be able to meet the demand for housing in the short term.”

Kubayi called on property developers and contractors who will be assisting government in their efforts to work swiftly and deliver quality products, “so that the people who have been affected can regain their dignity as quickly as possible.”

Other forms of assistance for the KZN floods

Over 4000 law enforcement agencies – including food, shelter and rescue operations – deployed in KZN.

Dr Ramokgopa from Infrastructure South Africa together with a team of engineers has been deployed by the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure to assess the situation and repair critical infrastructure such as bridges.

An alternative route to the Durban Container Terminal and Island View has been opened in order to resume movement of goods and services with the hopes of  affecting a positive impact on the local economy.

The Department of Water and Sanitation will be assisting the affected municipalities with tankering of water to communities without water.

The department has reprioritized R45 million to provide 80 freshwater tankers to the three affected municipalities.

These water tankers will supplement the municipalities’ own water tankers, which they are currently using to provide water to communities without water.

Compiled by Kaunda Selisho

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