VIOLATION OF SPATIAL LAWS AND POOR INFRASTRUCTURE EXACERBATE THE DISASTER IN MPUMALANGA
19 February 2023
The violation of spatial laws and the poor infrastructure is cited among the contributing factors that exacerbate the impact of the disaster in Mpumalanga. This is the observation of Mpumalanga Premier, Ms Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane during the assessment of disasterstricken areas in the City of Mbombela and Nkomazi Local Municipalities on Saturday. The assessments sought to implement short and long term interventions, in response to the disaster. The Premier’s delegation included MEC for Agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs, Ms Busi Shiba, Executive Mayor of Ehlanzeni District, Cllr. Jester Sidel, Executive Mayors of the two local municipalities, the Director General, Mr Makhukhu Mampuru and senior managers of the provincial government.
The delegation assessed Thekwane South, in the City of Mbombela, before travelling to the Mlumati river bridge, between Driekoppies and Schoemansdal, the Shongwe Boarding school, as well as the temporary accommodation shelter at Masibekela. They also visited the bereaved Ngcane family, whose son is among the fatalities since the persistent rains hit Mpumalanga.
Mtshweni-Tsipane says many communities reside in low-lying areas within the proximity of rivers and dams, thereby exposing themselves to the risks of drowning and washing away of their assets. “Some of our residents have settled in flood lines, thereby violating spatial laws that regulate land management. This ultimately leads to waterlogged houses, displacement of families and fatalities. We must intensify the enforcement of municipal by-laws to prevent similar tragedies in the future,” she emphasized.
The persistent rain is causing massive damages to the roads, bridges, health and school facilities, houses, water plants and farms. Since it started on the 8th of February 2023, the Provincial Government, in collaboration with the Municipalities humanitarian Non- Governmental Organizations such as Gift of the Givers and the Red Cross, are delivering relief material, including food to the disaster-stricken areas. Efforts are underway to fix water treatment plants for water supply.
Mtshweni-Tsipane observed that the lack of storm water drainages lead to overflowing of water above the bridges. She says the biggest task is to restore the infrastructure, which include raising of the levels of the bridges higher. “In almost all the bridges that we have assessed, it is clear that they are low, and therefore as soon as the water levels rise, water flows through all directions. As we restore the infrastructure, we will ensure that the levels of the bridges are raised higher, and that we build the drainage system without fail,” the Premier expatiated.
The persistent rain has interrupted classes in Nkomazi Municipality. With more rain predicted this week, Mtshweni-Tsipane has warned communities to be on high alert. She further urged parents to keep children away from the rivers and dams to prevent drowning cases. She conveyed condolences to the bereaved families of the victims, who drowned.
Issued by the Mpumalanga Provincial Government
Spokesperson of the Premier: Ms Sibongile Mkani-Mpolweni
Tel: (013) 766 2453
Mobile: 082 967 2138
Provincial Government’s Spokesperson: George Mthethwa
Tel: (013) 766 2242
Mobile: 083 302 2774