4 drown in E Cape, president promises urgent aid

SA needs to take note of global warming and climate change - Cyril


As thousands of people began the herculean task of picking up the pieces of their lives in the wake of this week’s flood devastation, President Cyril Ramaphosa warned that the effects of climate change on the country could no longer be ignored.
On the KwaZulu-Natal coast, where buildings were completely destroyed, 51 people died.
Four other people drowned in the Eastern Cape.
The drownings in the Eastern Cape include a young child who was playing in a ditch in Nelson Mandela Bay, a 39-year-old woman in KwaKhanyayo in Mbizana, and a woman in Ngqeleni near Mthatha, who was trying to cross the raging Mdumbi river.
The Dispatch reported on Wednesday that a 12-year-old girl had drowned in KwaBhaca while trying to cross a swollen river near her home.
Bridges and roads have also been damaged in Alfred Nzo, Buffalo City, OR Tambo district municipality and Nelson Mandela Bay, according to Eastern Cape premier Phumulo Masualle’s spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo.
On Wednesday, Masualle conducted a walkabout of Port St Johns where hundreds of residents were displaced by the torrential downpours that began on Sunday night.
Masualle has assigned senior government officials to compile a full report into the damage caused by the rains.
Speaking in Durban after visiting the flood-ravaged areas of Amanzimtoti‚ Umlazi and Chatsworth on Wednesday, Ramaphosa said the force of nature was huge.
“This is partly what climate change is about. It just hits when we least expect it,” he said.
The president announced that the government would make money available as a matter of urgency to help the destitute.
“These are emergency situations that we budget for‚ so resources will be mobilised in the biggest way, so that our people, who are currently in need, are assisted. It will take time‚” he said.
Victor da Silva of Amanzimtoti said his family had managed to evacuate before the floods destroyed their home and cars.“On Monday, the water was just crazy. And yesterday morning I got here, everything was fine. My garage was still here, the other part of the house was still here, and it just couldn't stop raining,” Da Silva said.“And then an hour and half later, everything, poof, [vanished] because the rain just didn’t stop.”During his walkabout in Port St Johns, Masualle pledged to build proper drainage systems in Green Farms, an informal settlement where nearly 400 people have been displaced since Monday.Some Green Farms homes, especially those in low-lying areas, would have to be demolished and people moved elsewhere, he said.Some homes were built on top of water pipes, according to Port St Johns mayor Nomvuzo Mlombile-Cingo and OR Tambo district mayor Nomakhosazana Meth.But Masualle told the two mayors that government had to be honest with citizens and not wait for disaster to strike.“It's [the area] a disaster waiting to happen. It is unsafe,” he added.The premier said his office had allocated about R109m for revitalising internal roads in Port St Johns and addressing the issue of stormwater drains.Green Farms would be included in these plans.“There were delays with some of the projects due to the recent strike, but we have been having social facilitations with the people. We need to speed this up.”Mlombile-Cingo told Masualle that some people had refused to move from the settlement even after being told their houses were a risk because they were built on top of pipelines. Asked if the province would apply to national government to have Port St Johns declared a disaster, Masualle said this would be revealed after they had received the report.Kupelo said the premier was expecting the report to be handed over on Monday, “so that a decision can be taken about the current situation in the province”.“The current assessment will inform the announcement that the premier will make on what needs to be done,” Kupelo said.Mlombile-Cingo said donations were coming in thick and fast, from businesses and others wanting to help.The municipality has also set up a bank account for those wanting to make financial donations.Eskom also revealed that it had experienced unplanned outages in several Port St Johns areas including Mantusini, Mbhobeleni, Nkonkoni and Green Farms.The flooding has put further strain on the Eastern Cape’s emergency infrastructure budget.Only last week, Masualle’s cabinet gave the go-ahead to roads & transport MEC Weziwe Tikana to apply for a R200m grant from the National Disaster Management Centre to help fix 33 bridges swept away by heavy rains in March.Transport department spokesperson Khuselwa Rantjie said following the March rains, the department “con- ducted its own assessment of road infrastructure and submitted an application”.At least 33 bridges in the province were severely affected.There are seven bridges in the Alfred Nzo district, two in Amathole, 13 in Chris Hani, six in OR Tambo and five in the Sarah Baartman district.Rantjie said all these structures would require a variety of interventions, from repair to reconstruction of culverts that had collapsed as well as the reconstruction of causeways washed away by rain.“It is now in the hands of the department of co-operative governance & traditional affairs and in terms of protocol, upon approval by the exco, a formal application will be made on behalf of Eastern Cape government to the National Disaster Management Centre. We expect that they will conduct their own assessment before the application is processed,” said Rantjie.“With respect to this week’s weather conditions, we are monitoring the situation and stakeholders have been activated by Cogta.“A full-scale assessment will be conducted once the conditions permit.” – Additional reporting by TimesLIVE and Reuters..

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