Western Cape Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning on declaring a provincial disaster after July floods

Western Cape Government to request for a provincial disaster classification after extensive flood damages sustained in July this year.

The Western Cape Cabinet today agreed to proceed with applying to the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) to have a provincial disaster declared due to damages suffered from the severe weather which affected the province from 14 to 19 June 2023.

Cabinet was presented with a consolidated damage report compiled by the Department of Local Government, Anton Bredell, Western Cape Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning said today.

After taking into account insured damages, damages not associated with the flooding, and the ability to reprioritise funding within existing budgets, unfunded damages have been calculated to be R703.3million, according to the cabinet report.

“The declaration of a provincial disaster by the NDMC will allow us to approach the National Government for funding support, as the scope of damages are beyond the ability of the provincial fiscus, “Minister Bredell said.

Unfunded agricultural damage of R500million is the largest amount, and of great concern to the province. The Department of Agriculture has reprioritised R18.6million to assist the sector. Commenting on the WC Cabinet’s decision to request the NDMC to declare a Provincial Disaster Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer said: “During my oversight visits to parts of the West Coast, Cape Winelands, Overberg, I gained first-hand knowledge of the devasting impact the floods had on our rural communities. The damage to agriculture irrigation, fencing, orchards, vineyards, crops as well as the damage caused by the removal of sediment upstream and which was later deposited downstream in the rivers and riparian zone was extensive. The decision to approach the national government is therefore welcomed.”

Unfunded damages to provincial infrastructure have been calculated to be R18.8million. The Department of Infrastructure has reprioritised R4.6million from its appropriated budget for the 2023/24 financial year to address immediate repairs to critical infrastructure. Minister Tertius Simmers emphasized the importance of requesting the classification of a provincial state of disaster. “The aftermath of the devastation of the floods still lingers and is there for all to see. Although we were able to reconnect our towns and reopen parts of our roads within days of the floods, the declaration of a state of disaster will assist in accelerating the economic recovery. The restoration of infrastructure will enable a seamless movement of goods and services to market as well as enable the commute of residents. As a province that exports more than 50% of the country’s agriculture products, we must ensure that our infrastructure enables the sector to operate optimally. This will further ensure that the stature of the infrastructure is preserved and help mitigate future erosion.”

Unfunded damages to municipal infrastructure, after reprioritised budgets were taken into consideration was calculated to be R21.5million. This includes damages of R4.4million in Overstrand, R1.4million in Theewaterskloof, R350 000 in Swartland, R8million in Cederberg, R435 000 in Drakenstein, R5.6million in Stellenbosch and R1.4million in the City of Cape Town.

Minister Bredell said although the province should be grateful that our dams are full due to the heavy and widespread rain this winter, the flood damages should also be seen in the context of climate change and the understanding that future flooding and droughts will be of a more intense nature. “When we rebuild from this disaster, we need to ensure our planning and design is with our eyes on the future. Well maintained ecosystems, such as catchments and river courses that are clear of alien vegetation allows for better water retention, less erosion, and free flowing rivers that prevents expensive damage to infrastructure or possible loss of life.”

Enquiries:

Wouter Kriel

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Source: Government of South Africa