Premier Willies Mchunu: Meeting of Provincial Executive Council held on the 12th October 2017

Statement by KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu following the meeting of the Provincial Executive Council held on the 12th October 2017

Greetings to the Members of the media, we thank you for coming to this short media briefing. The Provincial Executive Council (‘Executive Council’) held its special sitting in today.

As you all know, the province of KwaZulu-Natal has been hit by a severe storm which resulted in the destruction of public institutions, commercial property, housing infrastructure, roads and bridges, utilities such as water and electricity.

The provincial disaster management centre continues to receive early warning messages from the South African Weather Services on severe weather pattern.

The centre has been disseminating messages to the district municipalities across the province to ensure that disaster management plans are activated to protect vulnerable communities.

Regarding the update, we are satisfied with the progress made in the clearing of roads, drainage pipes, and rubble from collapsed and damaged buildings. These activities are ongoing and the scope of the damage suggests that they will continue for some time. At the same time, our emergency services are continuing to provide relief to the storm’s victims where necessary.

On the whole, the provincial and local government’s response has been swift and effective. On 10 October 2017, the PDMC working with eThekwini Metro activated a special Joint Operation Centre (JOC) to coordinate relief efforts.

The eThekwini Disaster Operations Centre (DOC) was activated to monitor the incident and centralise emergency response. Other units such as Human Settlements, Engineering and Parks and Recreation were activated to provide immediate response.

We can confirm that more than 133 schools have been affected and these includes high schools with some being used as marking centers. The estimated costs to repair the damaged schools is R136-5 million. Government will do everything in its power to ensure that learners who are preparing for the final matric examination are not affected.

We want to report that all affected healthcare facilities are receiving due attention from the Departments of Health. All patients from flooded hospital wards have been moved to safety.

At this stage we want to express our deepest condolences to the families who lost their loved ones. Police have confirmed about 14 people have died from this disaster. There are (5) five people who are still uncounted for including an infant. The trauma that has been experienced by the families will take many years to heal.

The MEC for Social Development Weziwe Thusi, MEC for Health Dr Sbongiseni Dhlomo, MEC for Human Settlement and Public Works Ravi Pillay and eThekwini Mayor Cllr Zandile Gumede have visited various affected areas including public institutions such as hospitals, clinics and schools. Yesterday, the MECs visited the Chala family from Umlazi.

This morning, we met with Mazibuko and Ngobese families from Nquthu and the Dube family representing Chala from Umlazi. We will continue to reach out to other affected families.

We are providing the necessary emotional support to the families during this traumatic period. Using our indigent policies, we want to announce that government will assist needy families with the funeral arrangements. The details will be announce in due course.

We want to express our gratitude to the friends, neighbors, community leaders and ordinary members of society for offering support to the affected families. This is what is called Ubuntu, which is a cornerstone of our values as South African nation.

We also express our gratitude to the private sector who have come forward to pledge their support to the affected families. Companies that have come forward include Toyota, South African Breweries, Durban Chamber of Commerce and Halimdad Foundation. We urge the business community to use their corporate social responsibility initiatives to assist the needy families.

Let me take this opportunity to emphasize that as members of the community we are once again called upon by such incidents, to dig deep from the soul of our very being to support one another.

Climate Change

The recent floods bring home the fact that climatic change will have a devastating effect on the infrastructure and many households unless action is taken to mitigate it.

Clearly, the natural forces are threatening the future of our province and global warming effects are realities facing us today.

This is accompanied by drought which we experience throughout the year, which is always followed by devastating rains and heavy storms. This in turn affects the food security and the established methods of agricultural productivity.

We urge young people to be present in all structures of Environmental Awareness campaigns. Young people must form their own forums or join existing ones in order to create awareness about global warming.

Declaration of a Disaster

Financial implications required to repair and rehabilitate the physical infrastructure are still being quantified and will be confirmed once all the assessments have been concluded. I must also hasten to state that Eskom has also assigned a team to deal with electricity provision in affected areas.

Notwithstanding this, we must also indicate that the executive council will submit an application to the national government for classification and declaration of a disaster as a provincial disaster in terms of the section 41 of the disaster management act, since it affects more than one district.

The executive council has agreed that the provincial government and district municipalities must urgently assess the storm water drainage system with a view to improve it where it is necessary.

The executive council noted the collapse of some houses and in this regard, the Department of Human Settlement, working with relevant authorities, will attend to the issue of poor workmanship on some houses.

In view of this provincial disaster, the Provincial Treasury will meet with sector departments to address the reprioritization of budgets to ensure that solid delivery is strengthen.

I thank you.

Source: Government of South Africa

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