Sfamandla Ndlovu, a resident of Siyatutuki, an informal settlement near Durban, surveys the damage caused by the deadly floods in the ETekwini region.

  • After the April floods, eThekwini Municipality built only 134 temporary housing units.
  • The municipality says some families have received housing after receiving materials to build houses, but most flood victims remain in shelters.
  • More than 50,000 people, including more than 13,000 children, were affected by the floods, which claimed more than 400 lives in Durban alone.

While the government touted the temporary housing units as a way to quickly find shelter for thousands after the deadly April floods in Durban, only 134 units had been built in the eThekwini metro four months later.

The figures were released by the municipality during a meeting of the Ad Hoc Joint Committee on Flood Relief and Recovery in Durban on Tuesday, when government officials from eThekwini and KwaZulu-Natal briefed Members of Parliament on progress.

Former KwaZulu-Natal provincial premier Sihle Zikalala and Durban mayor Mxalisi Kaunda touted the blocks as a viable solution after the April disaster, which killed 417 people in the ETekwini region alone.

However, progress with Temporary Housing Units (TRUs) has been very slow.

In July, Human Settlements Minister Mmamolak Kubayi’s response to a written parliamentary question by DA Emma Louise Powell revealed that only 108 units had been built at the time.

While about 6,000 people languished in 75 public shelters, despite the fact that the municipality intended to build more than 1,000 units.

READ | KZN floods: Godongwana explains why R1 billion in disaster relief funds are yet to be used

Beryl Khanile, eThekwini’s deputy city manager responsible for human settlements, engineering and transport, admitted that the TRU’s progress was “really slow”.

Khanile said:

The problem is that the rural areas in our area are some of the steepest, so access to areas or damaged homes is a bit of a challenge, so the delivery is 134. The city has given supplies to 360 families, so we’ve taken some people out of halls.

Khanile said the municipality suffered R3 billion worth of infrastructure damage, which included electricity, water, roads and bridges.

Although it was “not across the board”, Khanile claimed that some people did not want to be removed from the public halls.

“Some in the halls do not want to be moved to alternative places because they might be taken away from their children’s schools or their place of work. In a way, we are destabilizing livelihoods, but we have no options if we don’t. there are possible sites,” she said.

Problems with water supply and sanitation

Acting eThekwini municipal manager Musa Mbhele admitted that water and sanitation in the metro were “facing serious challenges”.

Mbhele said:

I wouldn’t say that she completely fell apart. It has issues and there is a turnaround strategy I can share. It is multifaceted, looking at financing, combating water loss.

He said the city has been in regular contact with the Ministry of Water and Sanitation.

“The minister was here yesterday. I’ve seen more of them than any other portfolio. They’re sitting with us in the war room. We’re working with them and they’re constantly supporting us.”

Virtually all areas of Durban experience periodic water supply problems, with a number of areas currently experiencing water runoff, meaning that tap water is only available at certain times.

After the flood, there were also numerous power outages in all areas of the city.

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