Reconstruction projects aimed at rebuilding are currently underway in parts of KwaZulu-Natal following the devastating floods that damaged infrastructure and roads across the province.
Addressing the media on the response to the floods on Tuesday, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala said that the construction of Residential Temporary Units has started.
"Constructors are on site in Ilembe District in ward 11 and 12 KwaSonkombo, Ugu at Malangeni under uMdoni and at Ray Nkonyeni, Nquthu and eThekwini (Emachobeni in Inanda, Molweni) - having started on Friday in line with the commitment we made. We are finalizing the assessment of some sites in Durban in terms of their suitability for construction," Zikalala said.
The Premier said that throughout the districts and eThekwini they are clearing temporary shelters such as halls and other government buildings as they return communities to their homes or Temporary Residential Units (TRUs).
He said that those who move to the TRUs may not be back home, but in the TRUs they will find the privacy and dignity that comes with having your own space.
"As we continue with the construction of TRUs, our focus is to accommodate more than 4 396 families that are accommodated in halls, churches, schools. We are also paying special attention to those accommodated by neighbours and relatives," he said.
Zikalala said that the provincial government is encouraged by the support it is getting from the national government. He said that an integrated approach involving the three spheres of government is assisting to ensure speed and efficiency in the interventions.
Zikalala stressed that although government has reprioritized R1 billion towards disaster relief interventions, the province needs more than R1.9 billion to complete its work.
Search and Rescue efforts
The Premier has expressed gratitude to the search and rescue teams for tirelessly working to save lives and recover the bodies of those who have died during the disaster.
Zikalala said that this disaster has cost lives, taken away bread winners and wiped out entire families while destabilizing communities.
"We must again give hope to the hopeless and in the process rebuild our communities on the basis of trust and a renewed commitment to a better future and a better KwaZulu-Natal," he said.
To date, the Search and Rescue Teams have attended to 542 calls and recovered 62 bodies and rescued 164 people, while 63 reported bodies are still unaccounted for or missing.
As of Tuesday, Zikalala said that 19 113 households have been affected by the disaster wherein 128 743 people were affected.
"Sadly, 435 people lost their lives and to date 63 are still reported missing. A total of 6 814 people are currently homeless as a result of this disaster," he said.
Update on Funerals
Premier Zikalala said that up to 364 bodies have been identified, 412 autopsies conducted and a total of 364 bodies have been released.
The Department of Social Development, SASSA and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs are continuing with profiling, provision of psychosocial services and provision of food vouchers.
The Premier, MECs and Local Government leaders attended various burial services over the last few days and further deployment plans will be done.
"In this regard we are pleased to highlight the support of the Motsepe Foundation in processing 59 out of 85 claims received with money already paid to various funeral service providers. In this regard we would like to express our appreciation that the KwaDukuza Municipality has indicated that they have already waived burial site costs for all the flood victims in their district," Zikalala said.
Further to this, he said KwaDukuza has paid R15 000 to support the burial of each of the 13 deceased who were from their municipality as per their policy.
The Premier has also expressed appreciation to Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa for his leadership of the Technical Committee which comprises religious and faith-based leaders.
The Technical Team has representatives from eThekwini municipality and the Premier's Office and includes a representative deployed by his Majesty King Misuzulu ka Zwelithini.
He added that they are also pleased that Dr Patrice Motsepe and Dr Precious Moloi- Motsepe have found time to be part of the meetings held to date.
"Provincial Government will provide groceries for the affected families through up to the day of the funeral. We are engaging municipalities to waive the grave site costs for all affected families," he said.
Water and electricity
While water and electricity has been restored in many areas, some localities in both urban areas and rural areas are still experiencing irregularities or no running water.
Zikalala said that water provision continues to improve although areas such as Nagina, Clarewater, Ntshongweni, Ntshangwe and Zwelibomvu are still without water.
"However, we are pleased that the repairs on the south coast pipeline have been completed, people will now be able to provide water in most areas in the south up to Umkhomazi.
"Our teams have worked throughout the night to finalise repairs on the pipeline that supplies water to Prince Mshiyeni Hospital and surrounding areas. Our teams have assured us that this pipeline will be able to supply water the end of business today," he said.
Zikalala has assured those affected that government is attending to all service delivery complaints that are being reported and urged community members to be patient and desist from blockading roads as this delays the full restoration of services.
With regards to electricity, over the past few days, Zikalala said the eThekwini Municipality was able to reconnect power to numerous areas, thanking technicians who in the aftermath of the floods, have been working unceasingly.
Roads and site visits
The Premier said that they are conducting ongoing site visits to assess progress being made in returning critical infrastructure of our province back to normal.
Zikalala and team conducted a site visit to the Durban South Water Aqueduct and ended with a clean-up campaign to the Rossburgh Testing and Licensing Centre.
He said that this party of oversight and monitoring is being carried out by Members of the Executive Council together with MPLs, Mayors and Councillors through the province.
With regards to roads, Zikalala reported that the N2 in Umkhomazi and Umgababa SANRAL has commenced with temporary construction of a detour which will be within the N2 space.
"This will allow flow of traffic from the south to the north which has been blocked since the flood incidence. SANRAL estimates that the construction of the detour will be complete by this coming Friday," he said.
He said that this will soon be followed by the permanent construction of the damaged roads which SANRAL will pronounce on shortly.
"This work is led by a local contractor. The teams are working day and night to ensure that a project that would otherwise take months will be completed in a matter of weeks.
As the province continues with the task of rebuilding, Zikalala said that most of access is now open and traffic is flowing.
While there are still delays, he said this is temporary as teams do their best to return the province to normality.
"The approach we are taking in seeking to rebuild KwaZulu-Natal after these floods is that we want projects to be completed in record time and we are pleased that the contractors and the workers are playing their part in this regard," the Premier said.