Is Gauteng ready for a major disaster?

Fred Nel MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Local Government, Housing and Traditional Affairs

The unexpected 5.3 magnitude earthquake that hit Gauteng yesterday raises the question whether the province would have been able to cope with a major disaster.

This question is raised in light of the fact that the Gauteng Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC) has not been operational for over three years now.

The Gauteng province is solely dependent on the resources and ability of municipalities and the national government to assist in the co-ordination of search, rescue and relief efforts in the event of a major disaster in the province.

Previous questions posed by myself to the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs have shown that the provincial government does not have sufficient information about the state of emergency services in Gauteng municipalities, and whether they would be able to fully respond to a such a major disaster.

The budget for the PDMC is also insufficient to make large emergency purchases in such an event, and would be dependent on municipalities and the national government to pay for such emergency supplies.

It is absolutely critical that the Gauteng provincial government provides the reassurance that emergencies will be responded to and people taken care of in the event of a major disaster.

I have written to the chairperson of the COGTA and Housing portfolio committee in the Gauteng Legislature requesting the committee to conduct an oversight study on the readiness of Gauteng to respond to such events.