A group of community activists in KwaZulu-Natal is connecting flood-ravaged communities one bridge at a time. The Pompeni River bridge project has embarked on a rebuilding campaign to assist areas that are still affected by the deadly April floods.
So, far the group has repaired two bridges around Durban. The costs of the April floods are estimated to be around R25 billion.
Twenty-five community activists have successfully completed two major bridge repairs. This bridge which connects the communities of Shallcross, Chatsworth, and Pinetown was badly affected, forcing motorists and school children to use alternative routes.
Realising that it would take authorities weeks if not months to repair the bridge, the group decided to take it upon themselves. After about five days on-site, the bridge became accessible to community members.
“The hours spent in traffic by residents, their journey time became four hours. People were leaving at home at between four and five in the morning to reach the office at eight. Four hours in traffic, shops, the shelves were not well stocked because trucks were not coming,” says Marcus Richards, Pompeni River Bridge Spokesperson.
The group is made up of people in different professions. Some are in the construction industry. They rely on crowdfunding and also use their own resources. The two projects have cost just over R300 000.
“We refuse to sit by or stand by and we see what is going on. We take action. We step in where the government has failed and we do what is needed of us. That’s our creed in life,” adds Richards.
The group says it has already received numerous calls from other parts of the province and beyond. They say their next step is to provide assistance in rebuilding houses and fixing damaged schools.