Metro looks at ways to help victims in emergencies

A firefighter walks along the edge of a blazing bush fire in Summerstrand on 22 March 2017. Picture: Eugene Coetzee
A firefighter walks along the edge of a blazing bush fire in Summerstrand on 22 March 2017. Picture: Eugene Coetzee

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality wants to strengthen its emergency support to help families left destitute by floods and fires. The city is wholly unprepared to provide shelter when disaster strikes, other than community halls as a temporary solution.

The metro wants to explore the possibility of buying emergency kits to dish out to families affected by disasters.

The metro’s political head of human settlements, Nqaba Bhanga, said the support provided by the city was not really assisting communities and more had to be done.

“Learning from the City of Cape Town, we have seen that having emergency kits will assist our communities in disaster situations,” Bhanga said.

“They [residents] are just put in halls and given blankets. The municipality does not provide other things.”

He said the kit would consist of material to build shacks in cases of fire disasters and relocating families to alternative land in cases of floods.

“For example, if there is a shack fire families can be given material to rebuild their shacks, but this will only be done in disaster situations.

“The mayoral committee has tasked the executive director of human settlements [Nolwandle Gqiba] to investigate and quantify what we can provide in such situations.”

In a report to the mayoral committee, which met on Wednesday, Gqiba’s department reported that families suffered during disaster situations, with some losing family members.

“This has been attributed to the slow response of the municipalities to these tragedies,” the department said.

“This has [also] created tension between the municipality and communities, as the municipality is perceived as uncaring or irresponsible.

“The purpose of this policy is to expedite action to relieve the plight of persons with exceptional housing needs who find themselves in emergency situations.”

Support given by the city would be of a temporary nature, the department said.

Those eligible for support would be residents left homeless as a result of an area being declared a disaster area, or because of flooding and devastating fires, as well as earthquakes and sinkholes.

Other circumstances may include people whose homes have been demolished or threatened with imminent demolition, or those living in the way of engineering services or proposed services such as water, sewerage and roads.

The department said service providers would be hired to procure, supply and transport the human settlements emergency kits around the city when required.

“In instances where alternative land has to be identified as an interim solution, the municipality will be expected to install rudimentary engineering services,” the department said.

The department was tasked with exploring how much the kits would cost.

The proposal is expected to be tabled at the next full council meeting to take place on Thursday.

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