Ndlambe Municipality responds to article, ‘Kap River dries up’

NDLAMBE Municipality has responded in more detail about the situation at Kap River, answering questions submitted by Talk of the Town after an initial reply by municipal spokesman Cecil Mbolekwa last week.

A photo of Kap River taken on August 4, showing how long stretches of the river had completely dried up

In our story we wrote about the state of Kap River which had been reduced to a dry river bed as depicted in photographs taken on August 4, affecting fish species and the condition of the vegetation around the river.

The collapsed bridge (causeway) was indicated as hampering the natural flow of the river.

In our story we reported that recent rains had boosted the river level considerably, though as fast as it built up, the water drained away again via a donga where a temporary bypass gravel road had been in use since the 2012 floods.

Farmer Pieter van der Byl said: “This resulted afterwards in a water level of at least 2m lower than might have been expected in earlier times (before latest flood damage). It was clearly evident at the overflow site that the present drainage level is at least 2m lower than the existing, original concrete drift/causeway overflow level.”

TotT reporter Louise Carter’s questions to the municipality were:

  1. I understand that the rebuilding of a proper bridge to the proper dimensions has not yet been achieved?
  2. What is the time frame planned for the bridge to be completed?
  3. In a previous meeting of the Eastern Borders Farmers Association, we learned from councillor MK Raco that the initial EIA study was not correctly done and that it had taken five years to come to realise this. He also stated that the process had to be started over. What is the meaning of this? Why had it not been conducted properly? What was wrong with the study? Is there a timeline for when the bridge will be finished?
  4. Why did Raco say he wants completion within a year? Will there be a new bridge in February next year?
  5. Is the municipality aware that the Kap River had run dry in sections as long as 3km?
  6. Several fish species have disappeared and invasive plant species are mushrooming on both the river banks. Is it correct that the botched EIA study has actually indirectly caused more ecological devastation, considering the duration of this project?
  7. What will Ndlambe Municipality do to intervene and address the neglect and ecological devastation that has taken place?
  8. Cattle and game animals are freely crossing the river bed as the water previously acted as a border. Is there a course of action for this? Is there risk of diseases cross-contaminating cattle and game.

 

Ndlambe’s community protection services directorate gave the following response:

“It must be noted that it is not the responsibility of Ndlambe Municipality to commission the EIA study, neither the construction of the ‘bridge’ and road repair. Therefore we cannot answer the question on why study was done wrong, etc.

Initially after the October 2012 floods the Department of Roads and Public Works started construction but was stopped by the NEMA Environmental Management Inspectors insisting that Environmental authorisation process should commence.

The responsibility of repairing the ‘bridge’ causeway road section at the Kap River is that of the Eastern Cape Department of Roads and Public Works.

The responsibility of repairing the ‘bridge’ causeway road section at the Kap River is that of the Eastern Cape Department of Roads and Public Works.

They appointed EOH Coastal and Environmental Services to do a Basic Assessment Report which has been submitted to the Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEDEAT) for consideration on 25 July 2017. The DEDEAT then in terms of the NEM: EIA regulations has 107 days to issue an environmental authorisation or not.

Once environmental authorisation is received the Eastern Cape Department of Roads and Public Works will commence work. Clarity on when this will be and when construction will start and be completed can be requested from the consultants and relevant Department not that of the municipality.

Application has been made to attend to the alien vegetation throughout Ndlambe including the area in question.

The October 2012 floods have altered the natural flow of the river and the ‘drying up’ of the Kap River is a natural process.

The October 2012 floods have altered the natural flow of the river and the ‘drying up’ of the Kap River is a natural process. The flood plain area enlarged and water will flow at points of least resistance. The Kap River has always been a tributary of the Greater Fish River system.

The Kap River is the natural western border of the Kap River nature reserve and putting up a fence will restrict migration and grazing patterns. Smallholdings on the opposite side of the Kap River with livestock need to suitably fence their boundaries so as not to lose stock.

Our rangers are monitoring fauna and flora populations on the reserve. They conduct bi-monthly game counts and we are not losing stock on the reserve. The animal species on the reserve are not susceptible to diseases from cattle. Cattle that are found in the reserve will be impounded.

WITH WATER: Ndlambe Municipality submitted the following photos of Kap River taken on August 28

Photos taken on 28 August 2017 reveal that there is indeed water in the Kap River, but due to the extended flood plain caused by the October 2012 flood event that was a natural process and the past two years’ drought conditions, the level is not as what it was prior to October 2012. This is a natural process and the repair to the bridge delay has not caused an ecological disaster.”

1 COMMENT

  1. I dare’t put my thoughts or answers here – I will be banned for life-( re the reported answers from the municipality- only to question the garbage answer.)
    However. On a worthy note- A detailed analysis to the flora of the Kap River Reserve (670 ha) is given. The reserve is adjacent to the Fish River and some 5 km from the Fish River Mouth It consists of a coastal plateau up to 100 mass-. which is steeply dissected by the two rivers that partially form the boundary of the reserve. The flora of the reserve was sampled over a period of three years and plants were collected in all the vegetation types of grassland, thicket and forest. 488 species were collected with a species to family ratio of 4:4. The majority of the taxa recorded represent the major phytochoria of the region. Nineteen species are endemic to the Eastern Cape, two are classed as vulnerable, five are rare, six are protected and a further seventeen are of uncertain status. The flora of the Kap River has closest affinities to that of the Alexandria Forest. The bird species there are marvellous- the historical ‘Graham line fort road’ – now inaccessible- will depreciate tourism. In this area too- Khoisan artefacts have been revealed. In all, a prime hot-spot underutilised.

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