Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, released an update on the Garden Route Rebuild Initiative (GRRI). The GRRI hosts regular meetings during which all working groups report on their progress.
Latest key developments:
- Erosion control continues to play a vital role in rehabilitating high-risk hotspots. To date over 50 projects have been rolled out to move dead bush into stack lines and to install bio-sausages and bio-blankets to retain top soil layers. High-risk areas include Brenton-on-Sea, Brenton-on-Lake, Belvidere, Phantom Pass and Knysna Heights. Through this initiative we are creating temporary employment opportunities for residents of the area: A total of 147 people applied for the 45 erosion control worker positions. Funding for salaries will be sourced from the Department of Environmental Affairs;
- Knysna and Bitou Municipalities and the provincial Department of Social Development have devised a frequently asked questions list covering building planning and demolition processes and social services available to those affected. These can be found at www.gardenrouterebuild.co.za/faqs;
- The National Disaster Management Centre confirmed that they would visit Knysna and Bitou on 30 August to assess the damage identified by the Western Cape Disaster Management Centre and municipalities.
The Community Work Programme (CWP) has been making a signficiant contribution to Knysna recovery efforts. The CWP is a national government programme, hosted in the Department of Cooperative Governance, which provides work for two days a week. In partnership with the Municipality and other stakeholders, such as SASSA and NGOs, they identify projects that will contribute to a more attractive and productive Knysna.
During the disaster, CWP participants worked at various locations to sort donations for fire victims and to follow up on families affected by the disaster through the Call Centre. Participants in Ward 3 assisted the Municipality in breaking down burnt timber houses, Ward 4 participants painted and rebuilt houses and a church damaged in the fire, and Ward 7 CWP workers cleaned up the town hall after it was no longer needed.
There are 478 registered workers on the Programme, and this week an additional 117 people will be starting to work. This initiative provides temporary employment for people who lost their jobs owing to the fire, and it offers much-needed assistance with a wide variety of tasks related to the rebuilding processes. The CWP in Knysna is applying to national government to increase the number of workers to 1000.
Farmers affected by the Knysna Fires are eligible to collect fodder at the three distribution centres:
- Karatara: Peter Reed 0832674331
- Knysna: Kobus Erasmus 0828552553
- Plettenberg Bay: Fred 0812709553
Fodder relief is only for farms affected by the fire and not drought. Any queries related to Agriculture should be referred to the Farmer Support and Development office in Knysna by contacting Phumla Mkhatshwa or Mandy Crozett on 044 382 3583.
Despite the recent rainfall of between 27mm to 38mm of rain (recorded in Knysna) on Wednesday, very few problems of slippage were experienced. The pro-active social remediation and soil erosion control measures have slowed the velocity of water and mud. The blankets and logs above Brenton on Lake prevented the most vulnerable site from sliding.
One of the key focus areas over the next three years is to make our communities more fire-wise. This will ensure that the risk to homes, livelihoods, property and infrastructure is reduced.