Wildfires costing Western Cape economy millions - MEC

Approximately 15ha of land have been destroyed on the farm, Druk My Niet. (James de Villiers, News24)
Approximately 15ha of land have been destroyed on the farm, Druk My Niet. (James de Villiers, News24)

Cape Town – Wildfires in the Western Cape, that left several historic buildings in Paarl damaged and gutted a lodge in Somerset West, are placing increased pressure on the economy, says Agriculture MEC Alan Winde.

"It is difficult to quantify the cost, but thousands of rands, into several millions, have been lost in the Western Cape fires," Winde told News24 on Wednesday.

"We continually tally up the estimates," he said.

According to Winde, the impact on the economy extended further than just the properties which had burnt down. The larger economic impact was the loss of money for businesses in terms of outstanding orders, and the staff who were dependent on the business for their livelihood.

Winde said it may take years for operations to be restored to normal.

"It depends on each business, if they had insurance etc. But it will take years to restore the damage of the blaze."

Winemaker Alexandra Mcfarlane, from the burnt down Druk-My-Niet farm in Paarl, said it was unlikely that wine production at their business would be back on track anytime soon.

"I think it is highly unlikely that we will be able to make something of the exact standard that Druk-My-Niet is known for," Mcfarlane said.

"Even if my vineyards survived, all my irrigation pipes have melted, so there is no way to water the vineyards that survived."

According to Agri Western Cape spokesperson Jeanne Boshoff, vineyards may take years to restore.

"It depends on how far the vineyards have been damaged, if the roots are affected etc, but, [after] you replanted a vineyard, you will have a small harvest after three years and only a full production after five years," Boshoff said.

Boshoff also expressed concern about the impact on farmworkers.

"Besides the impact on the economy, several farmworkers also suffered great losses when they lost all of their possessions in the Paarl fire," she said.

Meanwhile, City of Cape Town safety and security mayoral committee member JP Smith said the firefighting budget might not be sufficient for the fire season.

"The Somerset West fires have already used a large portion of our firefighting budget. There are still two months left of the fire season and I don’t think we’d have enough money," Smith said.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
When assisting your child with remote learning this year, did you:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Follow the school's comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) curriculum?
14% - 391 votes
Adjust the CSE curriculum to suit the family's morals?
24% - 685 votes
Ignore the schools CSE programme and do your own teaching?
63% - 1817 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
15.12
(+0.23)
ZAR/GBP
20.39
(+0.05)
ZAR/EUR
18.41
(-0.01)
ZAR/AUD
11.23
(+0.39)
ZAR/JPY
0.15
(+0.31)
Gold
1842.27
(+0.13)
Silver
24.20
(+0.78)
Platinum
1059.00
(+3.53)
Brent Crude
48.78
(+0.95)
Palladium
2353.00
(+1.93)
All Share
59309.89
(+0.61)
Top 40
54435.17
(+0.49)
Financial 15
11612.66
(+1.87)
Industrial 25
79879.83
(+0.25)
Resource 10
56794.39
(+0.31)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo