Damage slides into billions

2011-01-22 17:14

As the country braces itself for more heavy rains this week, early ­official estimates have put flood damage at close to R600 million.

This figure excludes “billions of rands” in flood-related infrastructural damage in Gauteng and unconfirmed damage to the agricultural sector of nearly R1 billion.

With the death toll at 70 by ­yesterday and with 33 municipalities in eight provinces declared ­disaster areas, estimates of damage by province to date are:

» R80.3million in North West;

» R300 million in KwaZulu-Natal;

» R50 million in Northern Cape;

and

» R150 million in Eastern Cape.

» Gauteng’s government and housing MEC, Humphrey Mmemezi, told Sapa that billions of rands would be needed to repair ­infrastructure in the province.

The worst-hit areas in Gauteng were Centurion and Mamelodi in Pretoria, the Vaal area, Soweto, ­Ivory Park in Tembisa and areas along the Klipspruit River.

The National Disaster Management Centre said that more than 6 000 people had been displaced across the country.

According to the Department of Cooperative Governance and ­Traditional Affairs (Cogta), more than 200 households were affected in KwaZulu-Natal – in uMgungundlovu, Umzinyathi, Ugu, eThekwini, Sisonke, Umkhanyakude and ­uThungulu.

South African farmers estimated losses of up to R1 billion as a result of flood damage to grape, maize and sunflower crops.

Agri SA economist Dawie Maree did not want to ­commit himself to a figure, however, saying it was too early to determine the extent of the damage because many farms, especially in Northern Cape, were still ­under water.

“We have to wait for the water to subside. Farmers in Free State and North West have already indicated that they will have suffered huge damage due to waterlogged crops,” Maree said.

Earlier this week, Minister of Agriculture Tina Joemat-Pettersson said the government would not compensate farmers for their crops damaged by the floods.

They would have to ­recover losses from their insurance companies, she said.

Maree said that although crop damage had always been considered to be covered by a farmer’s insurance, Agri SA wanted vineyards to be ­included in government’s disaster relief package because they were considered to be production ­infrastructure and not crops.

Northern Cape suffered significant damage to its vineyards along the Orange River, said Nick Opperman, the director of natural resources at Agri SA.

“What is important is that disaster relief and the fixing of infrastructure should start immediately,” he said.

“Bridges that have been damaged in the Keimoes and Kakamas areas should be fixed urgently so that farmers can transport their goods and not suffer more losses.

“We are worried because farmers who endured major damage in 2007 in Langkloof in the southern Cape are still waiting for their disaster ­relief money,” Opperman said.

According to Cogta spokesperson Vuyelwa Qinga, government support and assistance had so far been focused on stabilising the lives of ­affected people through ­humanitarian aid.

Government has prioritised ­humanitarian relief, the repair and upgrading of public infrastructure, agricultural relief and repairs to damaged houses.

» More rainfall is predicted for Gauteng and Eastern Cape from today until midweek

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