STATEMENT BY THE CITY’S EXECUTIVE MAYOR, PATRICIA DE LILLE
Today, 11 May 2017, I visited the Sweet Homes informal settlement in Philippi to monitor and to participate in the City of Cape Town’s winter preparation that is under way.
The City has identified 34 high risk flood-prone areas and has initiated flood prevention measures to minimise the adverse effects of the winter months in these areas.
Flood-measure intervention areas include parts of Kosovo, Klipfontein Glebe, Barcelona/Europe/Vukuzenzele, TR Section, QQ Section, Monwabisi Park and in the Masiphumelele wetlands.
Informal settlements are prioritised for maintenance efforts which focus on the formal and open drainage systems either surrounding or within the settlements, with an increase in inspections and cleaning in the run-up to the winter rainfall season.The Winter Readiness Task Team comprises a transversal team of City departments and showcases the City’s new Organisational Development Transformation Plan (ODTP) in action. Together, they introduce various flood-risk reduction measures to prepare these high-risk informal settlements for the rainfall periods across the city.
Our Disaster Risk Management Department (DRM) has appointed 17 Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) workers who have been trained to do education and awareness about the dangers of floods. This is called the Be Flood-wise Programme. As part of their readiness programme, they work in all areas and distribute practical tips on how to raise floor levels, divert flood waters, and reduce the health hazards associated with stagnant water. Apart from running public awareness sessions in at-risk communities, the Department also issues weather warnings and alerts based on advisories received from the South African Weather Service.
DRM also works with various emergency shelters that have been identified to help minimise the disruption of lives and community activities.
Our NGO partners are the Salvation Army, the South African Red Cross Society, Historical Disadvantage Individuals (HDI) and the Mustadafin Foundation. They provide humanitarian relief such as hot meals, food parcels, blankets, clothing, baby packs and vanity packs for males and females.
Flooding is often caused and aggravated by illegal dumping which causes blockages in the stormwater systems. Our Solid Waste Management Department focus on clearing areas in order to minimise system blockages. This is done through litter picking and sand removal on the banks of the channels and the drainage systems. Through these efforts, this year, they have created 1 805 temporary jobs and will spend R35 million on their cleaning programme. The programme started on Monday 8 May 2017 and it will draw to a close in September 2017.
Illegal dumping and litter, which make its way into our stormwater systems cause blockages which worsen the effects of flooding. Therefore, our Roads and Stormwater Department focuses primarily on risk reduction through the maintenance of infrastructure, as well as ensuring an adequate response to potential flood incidents.
We have eight asset management and maintenance operational districts within the Transport and Urban Development Authority. They participate in ongoing fortnightly readiness coordination meetings to expedite flood preparedness.
We have used our service reporting system for flooding incidents and other means to address all types of localised flooding problems that residents have experienced in previous years, and developing preventative programmes accordingly. Our asset management and maintenance operational districts’ budget have increased from R98 million to R123 million to ensure that their work can continue uninterrupted.
City Health has also undertaken a pre-winter assessment of all our mass care centres. Some of their other preparatory work includes inspecting all City DRM stores to assess food safety, using EPWP workers for door-to-door awareness on enhancing health and hygiene and partnering with DRM on flood-wise interventions and community health risk awareness.
The winter season also affects our street people. Our Social Development Department has set aside R700 000 to provide 17 agencies with fire extinguishers, food, toiletries, cleaning materials, bedding and mattresses. They have also recruited 60 EPWP workers from among the homeless to assist in the shelters with cleaning and cooking duties for those shelters taking part in the programme.
These are the main initiatives which we have already put in place in preparation for the winter season. It was truly amazing to see all of these departments at work today in Sweet Homes, as an example, to ensure that the most vulnerable are protected from the upcoming season.
They truly exhibited the ODTP value of accessibility by removing barriers between people and services, making access to services easier and increasing responsiveness.