Devastating KwaZulu-Natal floods may have cost eThekwini R757 million

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Residents salvage the remains of destroyed buildings in Clermont, near Durban.
Residents salvage the remains of destroyed buildings in Clermont, near Durban.
  • The eThekweni Municipality says the estimated impact of the devastating floods in KwaZulu-Natal stands at R757 million.
  • Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda adds R28 million in damage has been caused to depots and landfill sites.
  • Despite the challenges with water and electricity, Mxolisi says eThekwini is open for business. 

The eThekweni Municipality announced on Thursday the estimated impact of the devastating floods in KwaZulu-Natal stands at R757 million.

"The floods we experienced in the past few days are far worse than those we have seen in recent years, and the damage to infrastructure has been extensive.

"Our teams are hard at work to resume services; however, it may take a while to fully restore all services because of the extent of the damage to access roads," Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said.

READ | KZN saw eight new rain records on 12 April, with Margate doubling a high set 25 years ago

He added that President Cyril Ramaphosa was expected to convene Cabinet to resolve the declaration of the state of disaster for the province to start receiving relief funds.

Kaunda said R28 million in damage had been caused to depots and landfill sites.

"For this reason, we urge residents to follow our updates about the resumption of waste collection," he added.

The floods wreaked havoc across the province, claiming more than 300 lives and leaving many homeless.

The UN in South Africa said it was saddened by the increasing death toll and expressed condolences to the victims' families.

"The UN in South Africa stands ready to extend our support to the government's response and to the communities affected, many of whom experienced the same devastation in 2019.

"Families residing on the embankments of rivers in informal settlements, and already vulnerable, are seeing their homes being washed away, walls and roofs collapsing and losing family members," the head of the UN in South Africa, Ayodele Odusola, said.

Kaunda said the municipality had established 17 shelters accommodating 2 138 displaced people at community halls where they were receiving hot meals, blankets, and mattresses in a clean environment.

WATCH | 70-year-old Hindu temple destroyed in heavy KZN storms

He added the City could not accept requests for burials until the situation returned to normal.

"This is due to the ground being saturated as a result of heavy rains. We are monitoring the situation in all our gravesites to ensure that we are able to conduct burials soon.

"Since Tuesday, our councillors and officials are working closely with families of the deceased to ensure that burial assistance is provided." 

Mxolosi Kaunda.

Kaunda said power had been restored to most of the city, with only three substations still off due to extensive damage. It included the Wentworth, Toyota and Prospecton stations.

He added teams were also working hard to restore power in areas around Inanda Dam.

"Some of the delays in restoring power in these areas have been caused by damage to road infrastructure. Technicians are working in three shifts to ensure that power is restored as soon as possible.

READ | KZN floods: 'We didn't expect that much rain,’ says weather service

"In addition, more contractors have been brought on board to support the repair effort. We are planning to clear all outstanding faults today [Thursday]."

Kaunda said the damage to the two aqueducts at Umgeni Water was also a concern.

"These are the aqueducts that supply water to Umgeni Water's biggest water treatment works called Durban Heights. This waterworks normally supplies about 540ml per day to the city.

"Currently, this capacity has been reduced to about 350 litres per day. As a result, a number of areas have already run out of water."


He added the Tongaat Waterworks that supplied the whole of Tongaat also suffered severe damage and would take months to repair.

In the interim, Kaunda said the municipality would be deploying more water tankers, "and we are procuring a package plant that will be able to supply water".

He added 60% of the province's areas were accessible by public transport, but regions like Molweni were still inaccessible.

"Our engineers are on the ground to clear and repair some of the routes, including Bayhead, which is a key economic zone for the country and continent."

Kaunda said the manufacturing and tourism sectors were hit hard by the disaster, with several holidaymakers cancelling their bookings.

"This is going to affect jobs in the hospitality sector. We want to send a clear message that eThekwini is open for business despite this challenge. We want to assure you that we are working hard to rebuild the city from this disaster."

He condemned the incidents of looting and commended law enforcement for apprehending the suspects.

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