Floodwaters have hit parts of KZN ripping apart roads, destroying hospitals and sweeping away homes and those trapped inside.
These conditions have left more than 400 people dead and just over 60 people missing.
“The needs identified are enormous. Billions will be required to rebuild the province from this catastrophe.
“It is against this background that at a meeting this morning, the provincial government resolved to ask national government to consider a review and perhaps investigate whether this disaster should not be declared as a national disaster,” Zikalala said.
“We say this with humility and with an understanding that our president and ministers have been the first on the ground with us and in surveying the damage they have witnessed the level of response required,” he added.
KZN was declared a provincial disaster area by the national Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) after the magnitude and severity of the impact of the floods in various parts of the province was assessed.
The head of the national disaster management centre, Dr Mmaphaka Tau, gazetted the declaration last Wednesday.
Zikalala explained why the provincial government is seeking a national disaster declaration.
“The request that this should be reclassified as a national disaster will bring more hands in that national departments compliment the province.
“It’s not that we are saying we don’t have capacity… we do have capacity, but you will know that there will be limitations in terms of resources,” he said.
Expanding on the matter further the premier said: “The province has been experiencing financial cuts [and] reduction in terms of the fiscus. [If] we declare [KZN] as a national state of disaster it means more departments will come in and assist us with the work we are already doing. I think you will realise that we need more assistance.”
Damage caused by floods
Meanwhile, Zikalala said the damage caused by the floods was still being surveyed and quantified.
“We want to be scientific and not alarmists about it and to ensure that we have covered all sectors affected,” he said.
Last week, the premier revealed that the damage will “definitely run into billions of rands”.
R1 billion has since been allocated to KZN as emergency relief as government continues to assess the damage caused by the floods.
At this stage, more than 13,500 households have been affected by the floods.
“We know that there is a total of 8,329 houses that are partially damaged, 3,937 completely destroyed and affected households as of today are 13,556,” Zikalala said.
The premier also indicated that plans for the temporary relocation of residents and long interventions were already underway.
“Moving forward the case of persons who have built houses along the river banks demands priority attention. A number of houses along these river banks were affected.
“Many still remain precariously perched on the edge of the river. In reality, no building should ever have been allowed to be erected at such a location,” he added.
Zikalala said 551 schools have also been affected and about 98 of them will need mobile classrooms, while others will need cleaning and minor repairs.
Regarding road infrastructure, the damages are preliminarily estimated to cost R5.6 billion.
“[This] includes 1,369 infrastructure projects across the province,” the premier said.
Compiled by Molefe Seeletsa