Garden Route to be rebuilt – Zille

A plan to rebuild the Garden Route, which was ravaged by a series of fires last month, is being implemented, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille said on Thursday.

“Now it is time to rebuild. I sent a team to the region a week ago to assess how best the province can assist further. It is clear that the Garden Route requires significant support in the rebuilding process,” she said in a statement.

Zille said she undertook the Garden Route Rebuild Initiative in partnership with Garden Route Municipalities, community members and private sector donors.

Collectively, they hope to develop a rebuilding strategy for the area and identify where public and private funds can best be spent.

Large parts of Knysna, Brenton-on-Sea, Buffalo Bay and surrounds and parts of Plettenberg Bay went up in flames in June.

Nearly 10 000 people were evacuated and seven people died in at least 22 fires. More than 1 000 firefighters eventually brought them under control.

READ MORE: Oyster Festival still on after Knysna Fires

Province to cut red tape

According to Zille, the Rebuild Initiative will provide immediate support to municipalities for building approvals and coordination of humanitarian efforts.

It will also launch skills initiatives to enable local residents to participate in the rebuilding process.

“The initiative will be led by Minister Alan Winde and coordinated by Dr Hildegarde Fast, who was previously Head of Department: Local Government and coordinated the disaster response to the Eden drought in 2009/10,” she said. The provincial team will draw in other national and provincial departments and resources, according to Zille.

She said that recovering from the disaster meant building a stronger economic base.

“In recovering from this terrible disaster, we have an opportunity to build a resilient economy, create more sustainable jobs and create a more united community. We can only do this if government, civil society, and the private sector join forces to create a future for the Garden Route that is more prosperous than before.”

– News24 Wire 

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