Vaal flooding damaged crops - minister

Bloemfontein - The flooding of the Vaal river has caused considerable crop damages along its banks in three provinces, Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said on Monday.

"We have really been touched by the amount of devastation, particularly in Christiana and Bloemhof," she told Sapa in a telephone interview.

Molewa visited Douglas in the Northern Cape as well as Christiana and Bloemhof in the North West and Free State provinces to witness the effects of the flooding along the Vaal river.

It was the second time that crops in the Christiana and Bloemhof areas were flooded since heavy rains started to fall in December last year.

"They were better prepared this time but you cannot remove crops from the farm and they were badly, badly affected."

Molewa said municipalities were also affected in terms of submerged pumps for sewerage and water supplies and road infrastructure damages.

During meetings with farmers and communities closer working relations were discussed with the Weather Office, the department's water management structures and local structures. One of the main aspects discussed was the communication channels on flood warnings.

"We really need to work closer with them on future actions to minimise the effects of the flooding."

Molewa said her visit was not just a fact finding mission to the flooded areas. Farmers and officials of the department of water affairs discussed how the current situation could be handled.

"We are here to also encourage them and help them with advice on what could be done to minimise the effect of floods."

The water affairs department announced it was planning to close sluice gates at the overflowing Vaal dam on Monday.

The Vaal dam was currently 110% full and still rising to a similar situation in 1996, while communities living near overflowing dams across the country were cautioned to take care.

Flood warnings were issued to communities residing downstream of the Vaal dam and the other three major dams - Bloemhof, Gariep and Vanderkloof.

Hundreds of people were displaced across the country after rain damaged property, uprooted trees, marooned farms, and destroyed crops and shacks the past two months.

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