The departments of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) and Defence (DoD) have entered into an agreement to collaborate on the installation of modular steel bridges in the country.
Nine of the 18 bridges planned to be built during the current financial year are in flood-affected areas of KwaZulu-Natal.
Owing to the floods, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport submitted an additional six bridge sites for modular steel bridge construction, and this number is expected grow.
“Dozens of bridges have already been installed in KwaZulu and in the Eastern Cape to provide much-needed relief and improved access to rural communities where residents have to cross river streams to access schools, places of work, clinics and other amenities,” Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille revealed this week.
DPWI and DoD members have done a technical assessment of the six bridges during the week of April 10 to 15, and assessments are ongoing to determine the priority areas where bridges need to be installed first, she says.
The areas where bridges will be installed in the coming weeks include the Mvoti, Ilembe, Ndwedwe, Mkhambathini and eThekwini municipalities.
Twenty-four bridges are to be built in the KwaZulu-Natal province in the 2022/23 financial year.
“We also visited some of these sites [on April 19], where bridges need to be installed and I appealed to the teams to work with urgency and prioritise bridges according to where the need is most pressing,” De Lille said.
Further, DPWI entities in the built environment, including the Council for the Built Environment (CBE), Agrement SA, Independent Development Trust and the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), among others, visited parts of flood-stricken KwaZulu-Natal and formed a multi-disciplinary team of built environment professionals, such as engineers, architects and quantity surveyors, to assist with the assessments and plan of action for repairs under DPWI’s responsibilities.
The DPWI entities are providing support and expertise to assess the damage and determine the type of repairs needed and will be assisting with the cost and timeline scoping.
De Lille, Deputy Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Noxolo Kiviet and KwaZulu-Natal Public Works and Human Settlements MEC Jomo Sibiya conducted a visit to various sites in KwaZulu-Natal on April 19, following the devastating flooding.
“The storms in parts of KwaZulu-Natal resulted in major damage to infrastructure, such as roads, bridges and reticulation networks, and also to residential homes, business and public buildings. The storms also resulted in loss of lives and injuries to many residents,” De Lille said.
DPWI in KwaZulu-Natal has been in contact with client departments and requested that all damages to State property are to be reported immediately. Thus far, around 50 State-owned buildings under the custodianship of DPWI have been damaged, including 27 magistrate’s courts, 11 police stations, 11 military bases and one museum. The damages include leaking roofs and flood damage to infrastructure.
“The department is working closely with client departments to ensure that the most urgent repairs are done speedily and as soon as possible. Procurement for material for 20 buildings will start this week. The facility management unit and professional services are conducting these site inspections and provide the detailed findings for supply chain processes and considerations,” she said.
Further, on the Prospecton Airforce base, flooding caused severe damage to a number of buildings on the site and left the base without electricity and water. The DPWI engaged the leadership on site and committed to work with the department’s team of professionals to start repairs to the buildings as soon as possible, she added.
“DPWI will provide a list of State-owned land in urban and rural areas that can possibly be used for resettlement of communities displaced by the floods. This will be provided to the national and provincial departments of human settlements,” De Lille said.
“As DPWI, we are determined to work with speed and I have urged all DPWI employees and entities to constantly work with speed and to think of the many families affected by the storms and flooding.
“The devastation is heart-breaking and we must all work together and work with urgency to ensure that we settle families and build and repair infrastructure to serve our communities the way they deserve to be served,” she emphasised.
De Lille will provide a report to Cabinet on the DPWI’s plan of action for repairs following her visit and will also keep the media and public updated, she added.