Western Cape Cabinet Directs R75 Million towards Knysna and Other Disasters
Following a meeting of the Western Cape Cabinet in Knysna earlier today, a decision has been taken to re-prioritise R75 million towards addressing damage caused by the Cape Storm and rebuilding the fire-ravaged town of Knysna and surrounding areas.
Ongoing assistance will also be provided to the respective municipalities worst affected by the current drought– which resulted in a recent Disaster Classification.
Premier Helen Zille said: “Our government is committed to working with the local authorities to rebuild the lives of residents who have suffered great loss. This initial allocation of R75 million is a first step in this process. We will continually reassess the needs and priorities going forward.”
Minister Ivan Meyer said: “Our government is also grateful for the immense contribution from the private sector. The four major banks have made pledges, and DHL has so far delivered an enormous 284 tonnes of aid to Knysna. Generous support has also been provided by Pick n Pay, Spur, Clicks, Vodacom, Cell C and other corporates.”
The allocation of R75 million to assist with the recent disasters across the province was taken in terms of section 25 of the PFMA, which enables the Minister of Finance, Dr Ivan Meyer, to authorise the use of funds from the Provincial Revenue Fund. The PFMA allows for this expenditure in exceptional circumstances.
The Province has also approached the National Disaster Management Centre and National Treasury to access further funding.
Cabinet believes the recent fires, among other disasters, were truly extraordinary circumstances which required an extraordinary response.
It is envisioned that the allocation of R75 million would be implemented as follows:
- Transport and Public Works – R5 million to deal with road-related infrastructure damages and an additional R800 000 for the transport cost of the emergency evacuations.
- R15 million for school infrastructure as a result of adverse weather conditions and fires. The 2017 Main Budget made substantial funding available to Education for maintenance and these funds are already in the baseline of the Department.
- R1.2 million for Health infrastructure as a result of the storm and the fire. In addition, R15 million to support the Department to deal with the cost associated with the Swartland Hospital, particularly for prefabricated units, replacement linen and technology. The 2017 Main Budget also made substantial funding available to Health for maintenance and these funds are already in the baseline of the department.
- Human Settlements: R7.5 million to deal with the displacement of people due to adverse weather conditions and fires in the City of Cape Town and fires in the Eden District with the focus mainly on the rural areas.
- R5 million for the Department of Social Development: Emergency humanitarian support and related expenditure to deal with the most vulnerable.
- The Department of Local Government: R15 million for disaster management co-ordination, drought assistance and key related infrastructure requirements at municipalities within the Provincial Government mandate. Within the Department of Local Government, funding for support to the municipalities have been strengthened in the 2017/18 Budget and departmental allocations to deal with the drought and climate response.
- Agriculture: R5.5 million as a funding intervention to mitigate the impact of natural and biological disasters on the agricultural sector at large.
- R3 million for Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (Cape Nature, Working on Fire).
- R2 million for Community Safety for security requirements at care facilities.
At the same time, the respective departments across government will also need to reprioritise existing budgets in response to the disaster.
Cabinet reiterated its gratitude on behalf of the Western Cape to the provincial Disaster Management team, led by Colin Deiner, and other partners, including:
all firefighters, the Eden District Municipality, the City of Cape Town Metro and municipalities from across the Western Cape , Eskom, Telkom, ACSA, Cape Nature, SanParks, Metrorail, the NSRI, Agri Western Cape and the Working-on-Fire Program. We also acknowledge the efforts of members of the Fire Protection Associations, Volunteer Wildfire Services and private contractor teams. Pilots from the South African Air Force and the private sector also contributed greatly, as did the South African Defence Force Joint Operations Centre, and the National Disaster Management Centre. We also extend our gratitude to The Red Cross, members of the faith community, the SAPS, various Emergency Medical Response teams and private medical facilities, SA Weather Services, Humanitarian aid organisations, Sanral, the SPCA and other animal welfare agencies, NGOs including The Gift of the Givers, among numerous other organisations.
The Premier and the respective Cabinet Ministers will also be conducting further site visits along the garden route today to assess ongoing relief efforts.
The Western Cape Government remains committed to working with anyone willing to assist in rebuilding the affected communities until they are restored to the vibrant and lively areas they were. We will not rest until this is done.