WC floods declared a national disaster

The Western Cape Provincial Government has welcomed the decision to declare the floods that took place in September as a national disaster.

In a notice published in the Government Gazette on Tuesday, the National Disaster Management Centre declared the floods as a National Disaster for the Western Cape and Eastern Cape provinces.

“We are pleased with this declaration, as it now enables all three spheres of government to work together to fund and repair the damage left in the wake of the unprecedented rains experienced over the Heritage Day long weekend in September,” Western Cape Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC, Anton Bredell, said.

Bredell said the disaster classification makes it possible for the provincial government to approach the National Disaster Management Centre for relief funds to support the work needed to recover and repair damages suffered to public infrastructure, including buildings, roads, bridges, and water networks.

The MEC said the damage assessments for the September floods are estimated at R441 million for provincial infrastructure, and a further R154 million for municipal damages.

“We will now request the National Disaster Management Centre to approach National Treasury with these numbers [but] there is no certainty on how much or when we will receive any support from the national government. The provincial government will reprioritise existing budgets and continue with our own recovery efforts as best we can,” Bredell said.

According to the latest figures from provincial Infrastructure Department, 22 roads remain closed as repairs are prioritised for roads that connect communities and vital for economic activity.

In the aftermath of the floods, both the N1 and N2 highway, including more than 150 other roads, were closed.

The Environmental Affairs and Development Planning Department has so far received 238 applications to do emergency repairs in rivers and streams that under normal conditions would require lengthy environmental approvals.

“The department has already finalised 196 of these applications making use of Section 30A of the National Environmental Management Act, which allows for verbal approval in an emergency to carry out listed or specified activities to prevent or contain further damages to affected areas,” Bredell said.

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