Residents unimpressed by Cape Town’s preparations for floods

Homes stand empty in Empolweni and Ethembeni after they were flooded with sewage water. Archive Photo by Vincent Lali

The city has identified 46 flood-prone informal settlements across the metro and assembled a winter task team made up of 25 city departments and external partners under the leading role of the Disaster Risk Management Centre.

Informal settlement residents who stay in areas that have been identified as prone to flooding by the City of Cape Town have mixed reactions to the interventions that the city claims to have made to mitigate the risks associated with winter rains.

The city has identified 46 flood-prone informal settlements across the metro and assembled a winter task team made up of 25 city departments and external partners under the leading role of the Disaster Risk Management Centre (DRMC). The task team is supposed to be on the ground and monitoring all high-risk areas. One of the risk reduction measures that the city claims it is doing is raising awareness among residents of informal settlements on the dangers of flooding and how to raise their floor levels. Other interventions include cleaning and maintenance of critical storm water infrastructure and pruning and maintenance of trees to avoid debris from falling branches.

According to Ward 93 Councillor Thando Pimpi, whose areas include Qandu-Qandu, BM Section and SST Section, said that the DRMC did indeed communicate the dangers of flooding in these areas. While some areas welcomed the DRMC, people from other areas were not keen on being educated on how to best equip themselves this winter. “The residents of Qandu-Qandu chased away the DRMC, reasons being people are sick and tired of empty promises by the City of Cape Town,” said Pimpi.

Qandu-Qandu is an informal settlement that was formed in 2018 in Khayelitsha that does not have services like piped water and is situated in a wetland.

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The City of Cape Town has identified 46 flood-prone informal settlements across the metro. Photo by Mzi Velapi

Yolokazi Tinto, a social worker who works for a homestead that looks after street children and children from child-headed families in SST Section, says they struggle a lot when there is rain because they can not assist the children in need. “We struggle to even enter the area, because all entrances have drains that get flooded and we can not even enter and assist the children with their work and cook for them,” said Tinto.

Nomveliso Mnyiphika, a resident in SST Section since 2007, said that she does not recall anyone from the City of Cape Town visiting the area. “We would love for the City of Cape Town to assist us with at least gravel, because we struggle to go anywhere due to flooding when it rains,” said Mnyikipha whose house is in front of a drain.

The Emsindweni informal settlement is one of the areas prone to flooding. The photo was taken before the rains that started last week Thursday. Photo by Mzi Velapi

Councillor of ward 96, Lucky Mbiza, said the city has not reached out to residents of Island and Emsindweni informal settlements yet. “There has not been any talks with the city and the people of ward 96,” said Mbiza.

The ward’s representative, Myolisi Magibisela, said these informal settlements need to be either assisted with proper housing or be assisted with sand. “The winter season affects us a lot; each and every year residents are swamped in water, because most houses are near the drainage system,” said Magibisela.

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Shop owner in Emsindweni, Abdul Muse, says this time is a bad time for business because people are always stuck in their houses due to the bad road that gets even worse when there is rainfall.

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