Cape Town – Extensive flood damage in the Northern Cape, estimated at R600 million, necessitates the urgent declaration of a provincial disaster, says DA Northern Cape leader Harold McGluwa.
While the government is busy assessing the damages, particularly in respect of the roads and bridges that have washed away in the John Taole Gaetsewe District, entire communities have been stranded and left homeless, McGluwa said in a statement on Friday. Major detours have also been initiated across the province.
The Roads and Public Works Department already had a massive backlog in terms of infrastructure maintenance before the rains, he said, and this could affect the Covid-19 vaccine rollout.
’’The damage will undoubtedly hamper access to schools and healthcare. This exacerbates the pandemic challenges, even more so as the province gears up for the vaccine rollout.
’’The agricultural sector and the economy have also been hard hit, with transport of fresh produce affected, and people unable to get to work.
’’The Roads and Public Works Department already had a massive backlog in terms of infrastructure maintenance before the rains. One only has to look at the situation in Mier and Rietfontein, whereby pieces of the road have eroded. With the added impact of the flooding, the situation is now crippling.
’’Government urgently has to channel resources towards mitigating the flood damage.
’’The DA appeals to the MEC of Coghsta, Bentley Vass, and the premier, Dr Zamani Saul, to waste no time in gazetting the floods as a disaster.
’’Given poor implementation of disaster funds for the 2011 floods, government must work smarter and more transparently than before.
’’Government should also consider loaning state-owned graders and other road equipment out to farmers and local communities, so that they can put the machinery to good use, instead of allowing it to gather dust at garages.
’’The out-of-pocket Northern Cape needs all the help it can muster to get the province back on the road again.’’