While Capetonians rejoiced as heavy rain fell across the city last week, there was misery in Masiphumelele as residents battled flooding, with knee-deep water in places.
Community leader, Tshepo Moletsane said residents in the wetlands area had borne the brunt of it.
They braved wind and rain to span pools of water with wood and tyres to reach their homes.
“Conditions in the wetlands are very bad, and there have been no improvements despite this (flooding) happening every year,” Mr Moletsane said.
Residents endured “cruel” living conditions and everything they owned was wet, he said, urging the City not to delay in making good on its promise to move the wetlands residents to higher ground.
“They have committed to relocating those residents, and we can’t sing the same song every year,” he said.
In November last year, the City signed an agreement with Masiphumelele community leaders, after the intervention of public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, to improve living conditions in the area.
The City agreed to move those living in the wetlands to erf 5131, a plot west of the Masiphumelele sports field and north of the sewage works, and provide them with low-cost housing as part of the City’s Phase 4 housing project (“Agreement with City a victory for Masi,” Echo, December 7, 2017).
But Mr Moletsane accuses the City of dragging its feet while the residents suffer.
TheCity’DisasterRisk Management spokeswoman Charlotte Powell said about 500 structures across the City had been affected since Thursday June 14.
Despite the establishment of a task team to identify flood-risk areas and take preventative measures, there was little the City could do in informal settlements in very low-lying areas, ponds or wetlands, she said.
The best way to deal with the annual flooding in informal settlements was to
either move people out of those low-lying areas or make the areas less prone to flooding by improving drainage, raising floor levels and implementing other mitigation measures.
She said the City was at least able to run awareness drives in those settlements to make people aware of flood risks and offer support to those who needed it
“We, together with South Africa Social Security Agency (SASSA), assist them by providing soft relief in the form of hot meals and blankets as well as emergency sheltering until the situation normalises,” she said.
She said the City’s human settlements department would do damage assessments and give materials to flood victims to help them rebuild.
But Mr Moletsane said there had been little to no help for residents as it was not the first time that Masiphumelele had been flooded. It was time for the City to come up with a permanent solution, he said.
“Why disrupt residents by moving them to temporary accommodation every time there is flooding and then move them back to the problem area? It is time for the City to solve this problem for good.”
Other areas that suffered flooding included Philippi, Nyanga, Langa, Strand, Strandfontein, Kensington, Khayelitsha and Atlantis.