Remarks by KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala on the occasion of receiving humanitarian aid from the Embassy of Qatar, King Shaka International Airport
It is an honour for us to receive you all in KwaZulu-Natal.
On a day like this, we have an opportunity to celebrate the resilience of the human spirit, human solidarity, and the interconnectedness of our nations.
As we gather here today, many parts of our province are still reeling from the great loss and pain of devastation caused by two flood waves in rapid succession in April 2022 and May 2022.
The waves of floods have caused substantial and heart-wrenching damage. Many people have lost their loved ones. We have to date lost a total of 459 lives. According to police, 88 people are still reported missing.
Critical infrastructure like schools, bridges and roads were also destroyed with damage to public infrastructure currently standing at R25 billion whilst businesses incurred damage estimated at R7 billion. These costs exclude new ones emanating from the May floods. Some areas of our province have been transformed by the floods into inaccessible 'islands'.
We are grateful today to the Qatari Government for lending a hand and offering humanitarian support to the people of KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa. The fact of this friendship and this humanitarian aid soften the blow and warms the hearts of the people of KwaZulu-Natal.
Your gesture is received with great appreciation on behalf of the needy citizens of our province.
Whilst it is true that we cannot avoid natural disasters, it is within our means to reduce the impact. Your assistance sends a powerful message that although we might be miles apart, humanity is one.
The Qatari Government is giving a practical meaning by helping us as their neighbours in need. Your contribution will help lighten the burden of meeting the humanitarian needs of the over 4 000 citizens housed in community care centres.
About 45000 working people are temporarily out of employment because their places of employment are temporarily not operational as they were affected by the floods.
Government is providing burial assistance, death certificates, identity documents, post mortems, health services and psychosocial support.
Extensive work is underway to restore basic services such as water, electricity, sanitation and waste removal.
We have begun to rebuild.
Work has started on building temporary residences for affected families on state-owned land parcels that have been identified in KwaZulu-Natal for possible resettlement.
We are following the principle of "building back better" that takes into consideration risk-averse planning and development which starts to factor in the impact of climate change on how we plan and live.
Our rebuilding does not only involve the construction and repair of major infrastructure but also the construction of houses and damaged infrastructure. Houses will be rebuilt within suitably-located areas. We are implementing measures to protect the residents from such adverse weather events in the future.
To date, we have constructed over 131 Temporary Residential Units.
The N2 towards uMgababa which was damaged and made it difficult to access areas in the South Coast, was re-opened on Friday. We successfully constructed an emergency lane in a period of seven weeks. The recovery of the full width of N2 North of Durban after Gateway interchange, construction is progressing well and we anticipate to open the closed lane in the next two weeks or earlier. More work to rebuild infrastructure and secure suitable land for housing is being done.
Qatar - a strong ally of Africa
We wish to recognise the growth and strengthening of the bilateral and trade relations between Qatar and South Africa which continues to yield positive results for our countries.
The fact that today we are receiving humanitarian support from the government of Qatar further cements the existing relations between our province and Qatar as evidenced by the daily flights between Durban and Doha which is one of the aviation hubs in the world.
Very importantly too, is the cargo link with our world-class Dube Tradeport and the commercial centres of the world.
We also salute the transnational humanitarian work of the Red Crescent in bringing relief to the vulnerable and desperate in their greatest hour of need.
The PPE and disaster relief equipment will be of enormous value to us. Beyond this, the expertise of the technical team of the Red Crescent will enhance our own capacity in dealing with disasters.
We should continue to seek common ground in the multilateral councils of the world, prizing cooperation over conflict, and dialogue over other means of resolving conflict.
As South Africans who were recently freed from the yoke of almost four centuries of dispossession and racial oppression, our consistent endeavour is to work for a better Africa and a better world.
Even though our province is going through this time of difficulty, however, our resolve to be the gateway to the African continent remains undeterred. We will rise from this. Our province remains open for business. We continue to invite investors to work with us to rebuild our province for a better future.
Your Excellency, please convey our deep gratitude to your government, your people and the Red Crescent.
Together Growing KwaZulu-Natal.
And together working for a better Africa and a better world.
I thank you.