Minister visits flood-ravaged Eastern Cape to assess damage 'first-hand'

2019-04-29 10:45
Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Zweli Mkhize in Port St Johns. (Twitter)

Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Zweli Mkhize in Port St Johns. (Twitter)

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Zweli Mkhize, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), visited areas affected by floods in the Eastern Cape on Sunday to assess the damage.

The visit was conducted in his capacity as the political head responsible for disaster management in Cabinet.

"The minister saw first-hand the extent of the damage caused by floods in Mbizana and Port St Johns last week," CoGTA spokesperson Musa Zondi said in a statement.

"Many residents in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and the Eastern Cape provinces were negatively affected by the extreme flooding which caused tragic loss of life and severe devastation. The fact-finding and assessment visit to the Eastern Cape follows the one the minister undertook with the president in KwaZulu-Natal. Mkhize visited Port St Johns, Lusikisiki and Mbizana," said Zondi.

The minister visited the Green Farm settlement in Port St Johns, where residents lost their possessions as a result of heavy flooding.

READ: 3 Eastern Cape pupils drown following heavy rains

"The settlement is located in a valley that receives water from the high areas that surround it," Mkhize said, adding that the assessment reveals Green Farm will always face challenges due to the topography of the area and its location.

Finding solutions

The minister directed the municipality to work with the community to find solutions.

After Green Farm, Mkhize visited the families of two schoolchildren who tragically drowned in Lusikisiki.

"In Mbizana, the minister saw the damaged roads infrastructure which restricts the movement of the people, including some bridges that are negatively affected. The community is also still reeling from the death of a 39-year-old woman in the same municipality," Zondi said.

Mkhize emphasised the necessity of an integrated, coordinated approach to bring relief to affected communities and to ensure effective interventions.

"Resources are being mobilised and government will also as part of emergency support distribute funding to the affected (areas).

"The rebuilding of infrastructure in the long term will surely contribute to bringing the situation back to normal for people in the affected provinces.

"We have written to all affected departments requesting them to ensure that critical infrastructure and essential services are prioritised as many communities remain cut off from towns and don't have access to services and amenities due to damaged roads and bridges. Others have lost identity documents and cannot access government services and all of that is being prioritised," said Mkhize.

The minister also witnessed the serious challenge caused by the absence of a bridge over Mdlankala river, which cuts across Mdlankala village. The recent floods have made matters worse as the communities could not cross to either side to go to school, or receive medical care and other services, according to Zondi.

Bridge to be built

"The minister directed the municipalities, both district and local, to ensure that the bridge is built as per the previous promises made to the community a few years ago.

"A number of people were sheltered at the town hall in Port St Johns. Currently, all those who were sheltered in the hall, and many others, are trying to restore their lives piece by piece, and government thanks the public, non-governmental organisations and churches for support."

According to Zondi, Mkhize conveyed heartfelt condolences to the bereaved and wished those who were injured a speedy a recovery.

ALSO READ: Hundreds evacuated over flooding as heavy rain batters Port St Johns

"Looking at the extent of the damage, it is clear that if government, communities and other stakeholders did not spring into action and assist, the loss would have been beyond the current one. To this effect, we thank everyone for their contribution", said Mkhize.

"As people are working around the clock to restore their lives, assessments are also under way across the affected provinces to determine the overall cost of the damages caused by the recent floods."

Zondi said joint operational centres have been established in KZN and the Eastern Cape where government departments and all stakeholders meet daily to take stock and assess the provision of humanitarian assistance and critical infrastructure restoration to affected communities.

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Read more on:    cogta  |  zweli mkhize  |  east london  |  service delivery  |  floods

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