Helping to rebuild Eden
The devastation caused by the recent fires that swept through the Eden District Municipality (Knysna and surrounding areas), shall remain etched in the memory of thousands of citizens of the area for many years to come. However, it’s during times like these that South Africans show their spirit to come together
Although the losses sustained to property and lives cannot yet be fully ascertained, the rebuilding of lives and livelihoods is now the obvious priority. Many organisations and private individuals have come forward with offers of assistance in the form of financial aid or through donations of food, clothing, equipment and materials.
It is in times like these that the resilience of a nation is fully tested and South Africans are no exception when it comes to recovering from adversity. In surveying the affected areas, especially the rural farming areas where the devastation is more pronounced, it leaves no doubt that fully fledged aid needs to be channelled into those areas without delay, even though some are barely accessible.
One of the biggest losses to farmers in the affected area has been the damage to water reticulation systems, which rely on plastic piping for water transfer.
The countryside has become a hive of activity with vehicles travelling across the landscape carrying water containers to cater for the needs of families and farm workers. Farmers have risen to the occasion and are making every effort to rebuild their once highly productive farms.
The high inflow of disaster-relief goods (400 t by mid-July) has necessitated a strict management programme to ensure inventories are documented and allocations are distributed to registered recipients.
The Recovering Eden organisation was formed to manage the inflow of materials and goods into the warehousing structure and the distribution thereof to the affected parties. All available warehouse space in Sedgefield – approximately 4 000 m2 – has been donated by willing landlords as a contribution to the disaster-relief effort.
The management team of Recovering Eden – Mario Ferreira (property agent), Patrick Walton (TV producer), Michael Simon (community policeman) and Belinda Hobson (tourism consultant) – are all from different walks of life, but they all have a common purpose and have been brought together by the recent disaster.
They are continuously working away from their regular businesses to ensure the recovery programme is maintained at the current rate – even though, at this stage, there appears to be no end point in sight.
With warehouses full to the brim with relief materials, distribution was the biggest challenge facing the organisers. Having exhausted the availability of pickup trucks from the local community, the offer by Iveco South Africa to supply two Daily delivery vans in aid of their efforts was accepted as a major contribution.
The two Iveco vehicles, a model 35S and a 50C, were emblazoned with the appropriate signage to denote their purpose, and commenced the task of distributing relief to those in need.
The two Iveco Daily vans have so far exceeded all expectations with the volume of goods they are able to distribute on their daily runs. Averaging between 15 and 20 loads per day, each had covered a total of
9 000 km between them by the middle of July.
“The large opening rear doors and the effectiveness of the sliding side door enables us to reduce our loading time, especially when we have numerous helpers at the same time. This has helped to achieve fast turnaround times.
“We find the high carrying capacity of the vehicles most advantageous, especially when transporting large volumes of bottled drinking water to the farms over poor roads and rough terrain,” says Ferreira.
The next phase for Rebuilding Eden is the reconstruction of the damaged homes and buildings. It is estimated that 1 070 homes and 90 business premises have been destroyed. A major logistical nightmare is managing the building materials and workers arriving to commence the construction work.
“The management and staff of Iveco South Africa have been highly supportive of the disaster-relief initiative in Knysna and surrounding areas and have welcomed the opportunity to provide assistance to local communities where it is required most,” comments Ferreira.