By Lungani Zungu
One of seven provinces declared disaster zones by President Cyril Ramaphosa is already asking for over R300 million to fund the response to the devastation caused by floods.
The Mpumalanga government says its cost estimate could balloon as the R337 million it requires now excludes costs of rebuilding roads and bridges.
Vast areas in the province have yet to be accessed as the roads have been washed away and officials have not been able to reach villages that have been cut off from the main routes.
Ramaphosa declared a National State of Disaster in seven flood-battered provinces to fast-track aid to the distressed communities.
Ramaphosa announced on Monday night that Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KZN, Limpopo, the Northern Cape and North West would all be placed under a National State of Disaster.
The week-long disruptive rain led to the massive destruction of property and the death of four people in Mpumalanga and three in KwaZulu-Natal.
KZN is still reeling from the devastating 2022 April floods that left more than 440 people dead and thousands of others homeless.
In a statement, Ramaphosa said the government had received reports of severe flooding that led to damage to property, vehicles being swept away and overflowing dams and sewerage facilities.
To speed up the process of fixing the damage, the government had to place the affected provinces under a state of disaster, read the statement.
Invoking a national state of disaster act enables the government to streamline the distribution of aids, goods and services, as some of the normal restrictions can be bypassed.
But some victims of the April floods who are still housed in tents received the news with a pinch of salt.
“We don’t know whether the state of disaster will help the people on the ground speedily. Take us, for example. We have been in tents since last April.
“We are still here despite the government promising to set aside R1 billion rand at the time to help the April flood victims,” said Thabiso Mngoma, an April flood victim who lives in a tent in Ndwedwe.
Presidential spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said: “Taken together, these conditions demand the provision of temporary shelters, food and blankets to homeless families and individuals, and the large-scale, costly rehabilitation of infrastructure.”
He added that the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) would continue to monitor and coordinate response and recovery measures by the relevant government organs and other stakeholders.
The South African Weather Services have issued an orange level 5 warning for disruptive rain for Limpopo and Mpumalanga, and a yellow level 2 for Gauteng for the week ahead.
More heavy rains are expected to hit KZN and the Eastern Cape.
Pictured above: Cars being washed away during heavy floods in Mpumalanga
Image source: Facebook