Public Works and Infrastructure Minister, Patricia de Lille, says she is pleased with progress made over the past few months in the installation and repair of bridges.
However, De Lille said there are areas where more urgency is needed to complete repair work quicker, especially the installation of rural bridges.
Speaking during an oversight monitoring visit in areas affected by floods in KwaZulu-Natal, De Lille said a volunteer database of 304 built environment professionals has been developed to form part of teams made available to asses, scope, cost, design and implement critical reconstruction and building work.
She said one of the key interventions by the DPWI is the coordination of installing modular steel bridges under the Welisizwe Rural Bridges Programme.
“These bridges are installed mostly in rural areas, with the expertise and support of the SANDF [South African National Defence Force] soldiers, the DPWI coordinating the project and the provincial Department of Transport allocates funding for the bridges to be installed.
“The installation of the bridges also provides work opportunities for residents in affected communities through EPWP, while artisans are also appointed through the DPWI’s artisan development programme,” the Minister said.
For the 23 bridges to be installed in KwaZulu Natal, the programme will see 80 community members employed through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) for each bridge.
In the KZN province, 18 bridges were planned for construction for the current financial year.
However, due to the severe flooding, an additional five areas were identified in as being in need of bridges. This brings the total number of bridges to be installed in KZN to 23 for this financial year.
The DPWI has commenced with the preparations for the installation of the bridges and SANDF soldiers were deployed in July this year.
Teams were deployed to the 23 sites to enable the simultaneous installation of all bridges at the 23 sites.
The KZN Department of Transport has approved a budget of just over R242 million for the 23 bridges.
De Lille said the department has identified suitable land parcels to be used for the resettlement of households that have been left homeless with the focus also being placed on alternative building solutions to mitigate climate change and provide for safe living spaces.
“The process of verification for suitability of land parcels by the Housing Development Agency (HDA) is currently in the final stages,” De Lille said.
De Lille said one of the key sites which DPWI had to repair was the Durban Air Force Base.
“This work is now 100% completed. The work at the Air Force Base included repairing damaged roofs, floors, walls, downpipes and gutters. Other work now completed includes replacing generators, repairing blocked sewerage drains and removing mud sludge from the hanger room at the base,” De Lille said.
De Lille said scoping for further critical construction works is under way in order to secure the required funding.
“This process is projected to be completed by the end of August 2022,” she said.
De Lille said repair work was needed on 23 courts, 18 SANDF facilities and five SAPS facilities.
“Work has been completed at several courts including the Pietermaritzburg, Mtunzini, Glencoe Magistrates courts, where repairs were done to leaking roofs, electrical faults repaired, pump repairs and drainage of water,“ De Lille said.
De Lille said roof leaks were repaired at the Phungashe, Msinga, Ezakheni, Pinetown and Port Shepstone Magistrates courts amongst other court buildings.
“All repair projects at 23 damaged courts in KwaZulu-Natal have now been completed by DPWI,” the Minister said.
De Lille said further ownership verification undertaken on 3 June 2022 revealed that, out of 14 land parcels, six are under DPWI, and eight are under KZN Provincial Government.
“Further verification of the land parcels revealed that some of the DPWI owned land parcels were allocated to government departments’ needs and three DPWI owned land parcels are available for the resettlement of communities.
“DPWI is currently processing five properties to be released in KZN and these will be finalised as soon as possible to allow the HDA [Housing Development Agency] and local authorities to commence the processes to resettle displaced communities,” De Lille said.