Floods leave Lekwa Municipality reeling

The Lekwa Municipality in Mpumalanga is reeling from the floods that have in the past week again tested the resilience of its infrastructure.

“Once again, in the last few days, our compassion and our care as a society have been tested and proven to be resolute. Once again, the people of this town joined hands and sacrificed their time and resources to assist fellow community members,” Mayor Delani Louis Thabethe said.

According to the South African Weather Services (SAWS), the Gert Sibande District, of which Lekwa falls under, experienced heavy rains from Tuesday. This led to an increase in the inflow into the Grootdraaidam.

Thabethe said the effect of this inflow affected the outflow, as a result, the Department of Water and Sanitation at the Grootdraaidam continuously released water through sluice gates.

“This is done to ensure that the amount of water stored at the dam does not cause damage to the dam itself and the surrounding town which is Standerton. This has affected the municipality in that several areas were flooded.

“ As of 18 February 2023, at 7am, the Grootdraai Dam level has increased to 28.10m = 112.88% inflow. Outflow is at 996m3/s. Three gates are opened at 3m each,” he said.

The opening of the sluice gates affected several areas. These included:

– River Park, at which which six households were currently flooded and closed.

– Rooikoppen Road towards Shukuma School. Here certain areas are flooded and closed.

– Princess Street, Burger Street, and Beyers Naude Street (next to Caltex Garage) are completely flooded and closed.

– The Standerton Taxi Rank remains flooded and closed. Taxis are making alternative spaces in town to load passengers.

– Certain Roads in Morgenzon were closed earlier and have now been opened. The Morgenzon Golf Course remains closed.

– The Meyerville Bridge, which connects the Meyerville community and the town and is also a major road portion used by the road users from Gauteng and KZN, is partially closed. SUVs and Trucks are allowed to make use of the road with caution.

– Certain roads in the rural areas of the municipality have been affected and some cannot be used currently.

Currently, said the Mayor, law enforcement officers have been deployed to all affected areas to monitor and direct traffic.

“Other stakeholders and other departments are also on the ground to assist members of the community and road users with all types of assistance. Transnet has also deployed a trolley with the capacity to carry eight passengers only in case of emergency for Meyerville residents e.g. doctor appointments, hospital, etc,” Thabethe said.

Social intervention

While no fatalities or injuries and no massive damage have been reported, there has been a great need to rescue and evacuate homeless people.

Clothing and food have been provided for the affected.

“Six families that were staying at the River Park precinct have been evacuated and placed at the Municipal Halls. They were provided with food parcels and blankets. There are houses and informal settlements in Standerton and in Morgenzon that continue to experience minor flooding into their homes and Emergency Services are on the ground to provide assistance where needed,” he said.

He thanked stakeholders, departments, businesses, churches, and individuals currently assisting it manage the situation and provide support and assistance.

“Members of the community and road users are requested to cooperate with law enforcement agencies and observe safety at all times.

“We must treat all water on our roads with caution and ensure safety first. As the people of Lekwa, we have overcome other challenges before and we will overcome this one as well. I know this is a major setback as we were busy rebuilding our infrastructure and this will take us steps back but I am optimistic that we will rise again,” said the Mayor.

Source: South African Government News Agency