Politics at play as KZN’s Margate counts devastating costs of floods 

It was a case of two wannabee Premier of KwaZulu-Natal locking horns when Siboniso Duma and Chris Pappas met on Tuesday morning. 

Duma is the ANC chairperson in KwaZulu-Natal. He is also MEC for economic development, tourism and environmental affairs. Duma is known to harbour ambitions of becoming the head of provincial cabinet should the governing ANC manage to retain KZN. On the other hand, Pappas is the mayor of the only DA-,governed council in the province Umngeni. He is also the DA’s premiership hopeful.

Visit to flood-hit Margate

The pair were part of a high profile team of politicians who visited the coastal town of Margate. The visit was part of assessing the aftermath of the devastating flash floods. The floods left mayhem and a trail of destruction in the highly sought-after tourism destination, nestled in the south coast of KZN. 

As Sunday World descended in the area, business was moving slowly, with mop up operations in full swing. The heavy storm accompanied by strong winds which hit the area on Sunday and Monday led to five people losing their lives. It also caused massive damage to roads, property and critical infrastructure. This left both small and well established businesses counting the crippling costs. 

“Businesses have lost everything. They have told us that they have to let go of some of heir staff.  Other workers will be put on short time if this damage is not attended to in the short space of time,” explained Papppas.

He further stated that what complicated the already critical situation was because Margate was a tourist town. And when visitors don’t come, it will be the man on the ground who would be affected the most, he said. 

Still reeling from recent previous floods

“This happens while there was already damage to infrastructure, which was left unattended in the previous floods,” he said.  

Pappas also slammed the provincial disaster management centre. He said it is incapacitated to deal with massive incidents of disaster, such as storms.

It was not only the business who felt the wrath of the floods, but the local Margate airport. The facility had been upgraded to offer direct  flights to Johannesburg and other key cities. It was severely damaged by the floods. 

Duma said while it was too early to predict the total extent of the damage, his department was working with the local Ray Nkonyeni municipality. The Ugu district will ensure that by the end of May the town is back to full business operation.

Government has committed to putting more money to rebuild

“The floods roll back the gains and investment we had made to this town. Ray Nkonyeni, for instance, had invested more than R 20-million towards upgrading of the local airport. All this investment has been lost. But government has committed to putting more money to rebuild the critical infrastructure,” said Duma. 

He also warned that residents should be wary of the effects of global warming. Unlike before, when floods would take 25 years before hitting, they were becoming frequent, he said. 

KwaZulu-Natal was the center of massive calamity. Scores of people lost their lives and hundreds were displaced when deadly floods hit several parts of the province in 2022. People’s homes were washed away. 

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