Msunduzi Municipality and councillors have encouraged motorists in Pietermaritzburg to use extra caution when driving through flooded areas, and especially low-lying bridges.
The South African Weather Service (Saws) issued a level 6 for disruptive rain in south-eastern KZN on Monday with predictions that rain will continue for Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday.
Late on Monday, Saws issued two impact-based warnings for KZN on Tuesday.
The first is a level 2 warning for disruptive rain which may lead to localised flooding of low-lying roads and bridges over the eastern parts of KZN.
They also issued a level 6 warning for disruptive rain over King Cetshwayo and Umkhanyakude district municipalities which may lead to flooding of roads and settlements, danger to life (with a risk of fast flowing streams with deep water), and damage to property and infrastructure.
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Although the rain is expected to stop by Wednesday, Saws has advised locals to avoid crossing low-lying bridges during this period.
Ward 33 councillor, Suraya Reddy said the bridge on Woodhouse Road has had a dangerously high water level since yesterday morning.
“People had to turn around due to the water levels,” said Reddy.
She said that bridge has been an issue for many years with many people losing their lives there.
“Although there has been a foot bridge built for pedestrians, the old bridge must be lifted,” said Reddy.
She said since the road works on the N3 began, Woodhouse Road has had many cars taking a shortcut through the area.
“Despite many efforts to try and get the bridge sorted out we still have an issue of water levels and some risking it all to cross over the bridge,” said Reddy.
Kantha Naidoo, chairperson of the Lincoln Meade Residents and Ratepayers Association, said there had been a significant increase in the water level at the Lincoln Meade bridge.
“I am currently in talks with the municipality. They said [the water level] is [currently] not bad; however, I will keep monitoring it,” said Naidoo on Monday.
The Msunduzi Municipality on Monday afternoon said its Joint Operations Committee had convened to discuss the state of readiness in terms of alerting residents, monitoring the weather patterns and responding to any unforeseen events.
Municipal manager Lulamile Mapholoba said public safety and emergency services are monitoring low-level bridges with their roads and drainage departments.
The incidents of flooding in the past affected areas such as Jika Joe, Peace Valley Ward 23, Ward 22 along the Edendale hospital boundary and the Georgetown area along Snathing River. These areas will be monitored closely.
He said the municipality is urging those living in low-lying areas to take extra precautions as sudden floods might affect them.
“Residents in these areas should monitor water levels and evacuate the areas to safer places or higher ground if water levels rise,” said Mapholoba.
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He said residents are urged to avoid crossing flooded roads, low-lying bridges, streams and rivers.
Motorists are advised to be very careful and avoid driving through flooded areas.
Meanwhile in Durban, no major incidents had been reported by yesterday afternoon in eThekwini, despite Saws’ level 6 heavy rainfall warning. However, the rainfall did lead to the flooding of roads.
The city said all its emergency response teams continue to be on high alert and emergency response teams are monitoring the situation closely, working with councillors.
“The forecast early warning system team will continue to monitor the forecasts,” said eThekwini spokesperson Gugu Sisilana.
Sisilana advised residents to take precautionary measures to ensure their safety. “Motorists are urged to exercise caution and maintain a safe following distance while driving on wet roads. In case of an emergency, contact the city’s 24-hour emergency number on 031 361 0000.”
On the roads, numerous accidents and incidents related to wet weather conditions were reported.
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Visibility was poor in most parts of Durban and crashes were reported on the M13 Fields Hill Durban bound, Inanda Road, Waterfall, the M19 Durban-bound, as well as a diesel spillage on the N2 southbound.
The M25 KwaMashu Highway under the N2 bridge was flooded as well as the M4 south near the Victoria Embarkment, and the St John’s bridge in Pinetown.
On the South Coast, Marine Drive was flooded near Shelly Spar, and some parts of the N2 and the Main Road in Port Shepstone.