STATEMENT BY THE CITY’S EXECUTIVE MAYOR, PATRICIA DE LILLE
Note to editors: the following is an extract from a statement by City of Cape Town Executive Mayor, Patricia de Lille, outlining the City’s winter readiness plan on a visit to clear a stormwater canal in Vygieskraal and create awareness about illegal dumping
Each year, in preparing for the rainy season, a multi-departmental team in the City of Cape Town compiles a winter readiness plan with the aim of mitigating the adverse weather conditions during the winter months.
As a well-run and caring city, we prioritise operations and provide relief aid to our most vulnerable communities.
In order to ensure that we respond as effectively and as swiftly as possible, a team led by the City’s Disaster Risk Management (DRM) Centre coordinates the multi-faceted winter readiness plan.Our winter readiness measures include ongoing education and awareness in informal settlements to educate residents on how to minimise the risk of flooding.
Our DRM Centre has made arrangements with disaster relief partners (non-governmental organisations) who can provide humanitarian aid to people in distress and discomfort as a result of flooding and storm damage.
However, each year, while we respond as best we can to the winter rain and its effects, there are still too many cases when illegal dumping caused by residents and companies leads to clogging of and damage to our stormwater infrastructure network. This affects the ability of the system to drain rain water and often leads to flooding, which affects vulnerable communities.
While the City constantly maintains and cleans stormwater infrastructure, we are experiencing the impacts of climate change on the weather patterns as we are seeing more severe storms as was the case two weeks ago.
In preparing for winter rains, teams are clearing stormwater infrastructure as part of flood mitigation measures and to ensure that the system operates effectively.
For several years, I have been calling on residents to work with us to stop illegal dumping while we have rolled out campaigns to educate residents about the devastating and far-reaching impact that illegal dumping has on our critical infrastructure and especially on communities and the environment.
We have also called on residents to report blockages, illegal dumping and perpetrators, while the City has also increased the penalties to deter this hazardous and illegal act.
Today we visited one of the illegal dumping hot spots, the canal next to the Vygieskraal informal settlement which is repeatedly used as a dumping ground and where the City is spending thousands of rands to clear the canal and culvert each week.
Apart from clearing the stormwater network, our winter readiness plan details how the various departments will cooperate and liaise with each other to deal with eventualities and possible flood damage during the wet winter season.
The DRM Centre will coordinate the plan in cooperation with Solid Waste Management, Social Development and Early Childhood Development, Community Services, Transport for Cape Town Asset Management and Maintenance, the 107 call centre, Traffic Services, Fire and Rescue Services, Development Services and Human Settlements.
Planning for this winter season started in 2015 and we are geared to deal with any major emergency or crisis which requires a multi-disciplinary reaction by specialised disaster response teams to safeguard the general public, property, environment and livelihoods.
The City has identified 34 high-risk areas and has prioritised these areas, which include informal settlements in Philippi, Gugulethu and Strand.
The full winter readiness plan is available on the City’s website: http://www.capetown.gov.za/en/MediaReleases/Documents/Winter_readiness_plan2016.pdf
Some of the plans include:
Transport for Cape Town
The TCT Asset Management and Maintenance Department’s Proactive and Reactive Maintenance Programme will focus on the proactive cleaning and maintenance of stormwater and river systems to ensure a reasonable level of cleanliness and functionality, and expediting flood preparedness.
The current budget (2015/2016) for proactive maintenance (mainly cleaning) of stormwater facilities totals approximately R93 million.
Reactive maintenance work, such as responding to complaints and flood incidents totals approximately R130 million.
Additional resources via the Mayor’s Special Job Creation Programme have been employed to assist in the cleaning of critical stormwater infrastructure in high-flood risk areas across the city. The project, which started in March 2016, will create approximately 960 work opportunities in the current financial year.
Disaster Risk Management Centre
As part of this preparedness programme, Disaster Risk Management teams will give residents practical tips on how to raise floor levels, divert flood waters, as well as reduce health hazards associated with stagnant water. An information pamphlet (in English, Afrikaans and Xhosa) is being distributed to residents in high-risk flood areas.
Solid Waste Management
The Cleansing Branch of the Solid Waste Management Department will be undertaking extra cleaning to minimise stormwater blockages. The Department has created 758 temporary jobs and spent R10,3 million for its cleaning programmes.
We need the help and cooperation of the public as residents will be the first ones to notice a developing problem, such as blocked drains. If residents raise the alarm early, it can mean the difference between widespread flooding and localised problems.
We are again appealing to residents and companies not to throw waste into drains or stormwater systems as this will cause blockage and cause the stormwater system to overflow. Not only could this lead to flooding, but it also leads to unnecessary health risks.
To report problems, the following contact details can be used:
· Flooding, blocked drains and service disruptions can be reported to the City’s call centre on 0860 103 089.
· Enquiries and/or complaints regarding burst and leaking water mains, faulty and leaking water meters, blocked and overflowing sewers can also be sent via SMS to 31373.
· Enquiries and/or complaints regarding electricity fault reporting can be sent via SMS to 31220.
· For all emergency situations, please call 107 from a landline and 021 480 7700 from a cellphone. You will then be transferred to the nearest relevant emergency service provider.
· The City’s Transport Information Centre can be contacted on 0800 65 64 63 regarding delays on roadways and deviations.