Kwazulu-Natal floods impact on lives and business

THE PERSISTENT heavy rains for the past two days has resulted in catastrophic flooding in various parts of eThekwini, impacting on road network and infrastructure, major highways such as the M4 and N2.

These road networks represent crucial business infrastructure, providing a linkage between business and industries in eThekwini.

Any loss in any part of this economic infrastructure for an unspecified period will have a devastating impact on the manufacturing, travel and tourism, agriculture and many more, and this inevitably  causing huge loss through operations and expenses in business.

Many businesses cannot afford further losses as they are still recovering from 2021 July unrest and the COVID-19 pandemic, says  Palesa Phili, CEO, The Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry NPC.  

Whilst it’s still early to determine the exact economic losses, based on our observation properties have been severely damaged, as well as various critical infrastructure.

“Any amount of rainfall in eThekwini could lead to further flooding, as the ground is completely saturated. The magnitude and the frequency of these storms are proving to be a massive risk to the growth and development of the local economy especially in an already constrained economic environment with a major challenge being the inability to transport and deliver goods and services to various destinations due to flooding and traffic congestion. 

This translates into reduced turnaround times and inefficiencies that amount to significant losses for businesses. Over and above this, small businesses may not have adequate insurance to recover their losses, hence, jeopardising their existence and sustainability going forward. If these losses are not recovered, over time the local economy can suffer significantly.

The South of Durban continues to be impacted by heavy rain. This region is home to South Africa’s largest manufacturers. If the matter is not resolved this will have a negative effect on the country’s overall GDP, she says.

“As a business collective we call on law enforcement to be visible, as we have received reports that criminals are using this disaster as an opportunity to commit crime, several container trucks that are stuck on the road have been victims of looting, we cannot allow this type of behaviour,” she said.

The damage to property and loss of productivity, mainly due to ageing and inadequately maintained infrastructure, is disastrous and unsustainable and will have a cascading negative effect on economic activity. There needs to be a serious review of stormwater drainage systems especially related to our local and provincial road networks to ensure that rainwater can be easily drained away. The Durban Chamber urges the local and provincial government to urgently share its disaster management plan with all stakeholders and enact steps to reduce the dangers and potential damage of the heavy rainfall to minimise the socio-economic risks.

“As a port city, eThekwini is heavily reliant on the logistics sector and our road infrastructure, and government needs to communicate and immediately action its plan for infrastructure maintenance and development that will improve drainage and traffic congestion issues,” says Phili.

Meanwhile, MTN confirmed on Tuesday that 500 of its sites have shut down due to the ongoing floods in some parts of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).

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