Minister Des Van Rooyen saw first-hand the devastation caused by storms in OR Tambo District Municipality - Eastern Cape Province
The Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, honourable Des van Rooyen visited the Eastern Cape Province on 10 January 2017. This visit follows severe weather condition on 2 January 2017 characterised by thunderstorms and strong winds.
To this effect, the purpose of Minister’s visit was to see first-hand the extent of damages at OR Tambo District Municipality. Minister was briefed by the leadership of District and Local Municipalities. The briefing detailed the extent of the damages and the impact on communities, whilst showing the plans in place to mitigate the impact this challenge had on communities.
The briefing also demonstrated that more assistance is required to augment the resources of municipalities.
The Minister witnessed severe devastation and irretrievable damages in OR Tambo District Municipality that includes the irreparable destruction of infrastructure and property. Just by driving through these areas, the extent of the challenge is clearly visible as debris are scattered all over, the roofs of some houses have been blown away and whilst some houses have collapsed (1 471 housing structures have partial damages to varying degrees).
The storms destroyed schools, houses, roads, ECD centres and interrupted the supply of electricity to communities. Eskom indicated that about 2 000 families were without electricity as a results of the storms. Upon inspection and assessment of the damages, the preliminary report shows that about 1993 households are affected in 77 villages of 15 wards.
About 300 households have been displaced and one person was fatally wounded. This Minister conveyed condolences to the loved ones of the deceased and wished speedy recovery to those who are injured. With the schools opening on 11 January 2017, it is concerning that some schools have been destroyed by these storms.
“Our response to this emergency, should be prompt, well-coordinated and geared to restoring the dignity of those affected by the storms’, said Minister van Rooyen.
The Minister expressed his appreciation to the efforts thus far by government and other stakeholders, but he lamented the slow pace of ensuring that all resources are coordinated and the processes are followed to declare this area a disaster.
“The sheer impact of this on the lives of the people and the sheer extent of the devastation requires all stakeholders to join hands in response to this challenging situation”, said the Minister.
The Minister commended government and other stakeholders for providing food parcels and temporary housing shelter for those who lost their houses. This efforts are commendable and can be increased if all stakeholders (government and non-government structures) lend a hand to bring normality in the affected areas and the lives of communities.
The meeting with communities and other stakeholders made it possible for Minister to understand the extent of the problem from their perspective. “We are encouraged and commend the spirit of Ubuntu as displayed by some community members who are accommodating those displaced.
This act of goodwill will go a long way to promote caring, sharing and cooperation for the good of the whole - Ubuntu in action”, said Minister.
The Minister committed to engage other departments and role players. The aim of this engagements will be to mobilise more support for the affected communities.
Through the National Disaster Management Centre, Minister committed his continued support to the affected Municipalities and finding possible resources that would assist to return the lives of individual, families’ and the entire communities back to normality.
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