How strong is our City's plan?
By Khuthala Nandipha
Mayor Xola Pakati announced the City’s Disaster Management plans to the media last Wednesday, but very little was said about people living in informal settlements under hygienic challenges. Currently, there will be no mass distribution of masks, soap, water and sanitizers during an outbreak which has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation.
“For now, we are following Covid-19 protocols as pronounced by the President. We are not yet at a point where there will be mass distribution of masks and sanitisers, our citizens must observe the protocols as defined; minimise interaction and mass gatherings. Internally we will provide the necessary tools for our frontline officials using the catering budget,” said Pakati.
Meanwhile eThekwini Municipality is currently implementing, as part of their broader intervention, an ‘Informal settlements and Transit Camps’ plan for up to 590 informal settlements with 240 000 families.
Their communities will be given access to clean running water, water storage tanks and washing facilities to be filled by mobile water tankers. There will be installations of liquid soap dispensers and hand sanitizers at all communal ablution facilities. Additional water points will be installed at all 2 200 communal ablution facilities.
Hand sanitisers will be provided installed in hostel bathrooms and access points.
There will be ongoing sanitation and cleaning of facilities to ensure hygiene for the 181 000 occupants. The Municipality’s 25 taxi ranks will also be provided all the necessary tools for commuters and drivers. Jojo tanks and standpipes are to be installed at the ranks to increase the availability of water.
“The lives of our residents will always be our priority and under no circumstances shall we take chances,” said their Mayor, Mxolisi Kaunda.
Three decades ago, South Africa dealt with the outbreak of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and government ensured that all citizens have freely available condoms at public institutions. South Africa distributes up to 25 million condoms, one of the largest female condom programmes in the world, costing the country billions.
According to the Disaster Management Act of 2002, Municipalities must promote an integrated and co-ordinated approach with special emphasis on prevention and mitigation. Municipalities must make recommendations regarding the funding of disaster management and initiate or facilitate efforts to make such funding available.
They are also required to assess the vulnerability of communities and households and minimise the risk and impact. If necessary, there has to be procurement of essential goods and services.
Cogta warned the public that if anyone hinders, interferes with, or obstructs an enforcement officer in the exercise or the performance of his or her duties is guilty of an offence and, on conviction, liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months.