Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane says collective intervention from all spheres of government is needed to address the disaster caused by heavy rains in Port St Johns.
He says effort needs to go towards rebuilding the collapsed infrastructure and providing food and shelter to more than 300 people left homeless by the floods.
Mabuyane visited the area to assess the damage and to meet with government departments and stakeholders to craft an intervention strategy.
Heavy rains wreak havoc in Port St Johns
Three people lost their lives while scores are being temporarily accommodated at a local hall.
The destruction of infrastructure caused by heavy rains left thousands homeless.
Eastern Cape – #Flooding Port St Johns pic.twitter.com/ByBbkeI4Ho
— TrafficSA (@TrafficSA) March 23, 2023
“We have got the biggest problem, so we are appealing to the national government, we need more support. We need more resources; we are talking to our people. We said it before; we are saying it now that our people must be removed from those low-lying areas. When you look at Port St Johns, it is squeezed. It is an ocean on this side and on the other side is the mountain. And what is happening now is there is a landslide. Rocks are falling down from the mountain,” explains Mabuyane.
Displaced villagers say they need immediate intervention from the government.
“My house is flooded and when I arrived yesterday, I saw my food, mattresses and other stuff floating on the water. I am working here in Port St Johns as a hawker, so this is the second home that I will have to leave because of the floods. So everything is upside down,” says a displaced villager Cathrine Lizo.
Another resident, Ntobekhaya Nombhida has also been displaced by the floods. “Floods have caused huge damage, because food, beds, in fact, all my groceries, meat, and staff have been damaged by the water. I am now left with nothing, we need help from the government.”
had taken all their belongings outside so that they could dry up.
Following the walkabout, the Premier emphasised that a multi stakeholder approach is crucial to ensure that there is a permanent solution to the infrastructure challenges the small town is repeatedly facing pic.twitter.com/F1sk96pv1g
— O. R Tambo District Municipality (@ortambodm) March 25, 2023
Businesses and Non-Governmental Organisations have been requested to come on board. Eastern Cape Premier adds, “We need immediate intervention, people must have food, people must have sanitary towels, all the females here, young people must go to school, they need uniforms, we are calling business, we are calling everyone to come on the ground and assist these ordinary people, we are calling everyone to bring mattresses, food, everything. You can buy a blanket and donate to the Municipality.”
The local chief, Zamile Faku says, “It is a good idea to relocate the town to the upper area, otherwise, the place where there is town now, is indeed a waterway as I can see and according to the previous occasions, we are in a waterway.”
Provincial authorities say they are hopeful that relevant national government departments will intervene and provide necessary assistance to the people of Port St Johns.
The Youth Centre where people are currently accommodated is overcrowded.
Meanwhile, the deputy mayor of the OR Tambo District Municipality, Thokozile Sokhanyile, says that the situation in Port St Johns remains dire, as the area deals with the aftermath of yet another flood in just a year.
Sokhanyile says that a task team is currently on the ground assessing the needs of locals some of whom have been housed in community halls.
“It is very bad, most of the people are homeless, the last time we were recording, it was 568, but now it has gone up. Now that it’s no longer raining, they are falling down because houses have got cracks. Even the roads, where it has been eroded with big holes- there are cracks- we’re in a dire situation,” he laments.