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Ehlanzeni’s flood damage repairs estimated to be over R300m

The Mpumalanga government said it plans to work with credible service providers to rebuild quality infrastructure after the Lowveld's widespread floods, and to hold those persons who had sold flood-prone riverbank land illegally, accountable.

The flood damages in the Ehlanzeni District is estimated to be more than R300m, said the MEC for the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Mandla Msibi, during a media briefing on the government’s flood intervention efforts.

The province was hit by a severe storm last week, causing widespread damage to infrastructure, houses, roads, schools and healthcare facilities in both the Nkomazi and City of Mbombela (CoM) local municipalities and some parts of Bushbuckridge Local Municipality. As a result, the national Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs declared a national state of disaster in terms of the Disaster Management Act of 2002 to enable an intensive, co-ordinated response to the impact of the floods that are affecting the province.

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Msibi said people living close to or on riverbanks are the most affected by the floods. “The government is prepared to follow the legal route and hold all of those who sell stands illegally accountable, with the full force of the law. Land invaders must be forcibly removed from the areas not given by government.”

Msibi further said the most hit area in the CoM is Tekwane South, where people had invaded some land close to the Crocodile River.
“The CoM should stand firm on this issue and take decisive action to deal with people living in the close proximity of the river, as it is not land allocated by the City. We want a report on how the CoM will deal with this issue, as it is now the burden of government, when those people do not pay for services.”

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In terms of damaged infrastructure, the MEC said service providers should be credible. “We have noted that some of the damaged bridges were made with low-quality materials and had poor production values, making them vulnerable to flooding. We will be keeping an eye on the service providers who will be involved in repairing the damaged infrastructure, because we are not pleased with the quality of some government projects. We will be working to redesign some of Nkomazi’s low-water level bridges into high-level water bridges, so they won’t be swept away by river currents,” he said. “Once we have assessed all the damages, we will release a proper report on how we intend to distribute the funds and rebuild the infrastructure.”

CoM’s mayor, Cllr Sibongile Makushe-Mazibuko, said in response the City will be working with traditional authorities to address the issue of land invasion. “We have noted that some tribal authorities sell stands to people on lands that are not designated for human inhabitation, and we want to work on tribal lands and offer people lands that are conducive and will not be severely hit by natural disasters.”

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Makushe-Mazibuko said they are in a process of removing people who had built their houses on the riverbanks, especially in the invaded parts of land. “We have some of the residents who volunteered to move. And we are going to action against the people who had sold them the land,” she said.

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