Wet weather is forecast for spring and summer – and it’s only a matter of time before the rain comes.

For some, the news of plenty of rain was welcome, but not for those living in flood-prone areas.

Heavy downpours were recorded in various parts of the country last summer, leaving a trail of destruction and claiming hundreds of lives in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).

In recent months, the South African Meteorological Service has forecast above-normal rainfall for the north-eastern parts of the country, including provinces such as Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, North West, Free State and KZN.

The forecast comes as the La Niña weather system, which is associated with heavy rain, remains in effect.

Water expert Professor Anthony Turton has questioned the government’s ability to respond to weather disasters such as the recent floods.

Turton, who lives in KZN, said the damage to infrastructure had not been repaired. “The ability of the state to respond, especially in KZN, is extremely low, and we have clear evidence: the washed-out roads are still not repaired, and the damaged sewage systems are still not repaired.

“The state’s ability to respond is really our biggest risk, not so much the risk of changing precipitation patterns. “It’s the failure of the state to respond, and I see it getting worse in the future. I don’t see any signs of improvement in the state’s capabilities.”

Turton said the government’s “soft infrastructure” had collapsed, stressing that there had been a complete de-skilling of staffing policies.

“Many municipalities don’t even have the ability to draw up a terms of reference to appoint a consulting engineer…

“Our problem is the inability to react at the institutional level. We are facing a systemic failure and it is not just in the water sector but in the energy sector as well – as we see with the problems at Eskom, Turton said.

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