REPORT 19 March 2017

I didn’t realise last week how prophetic my words would be, when I wrote about the Cape Town Cycle Tour being subject to the mercies of the wind! Within twenty minutes of the first riders setting off from the Foreshore in Cape Town, the organisers had called the race off because of the dangerous South Easter whipping from the False Bay direction. You probably all saw the amazing videos of the bicycles floating like kites in the wind as the riders hung on to them for dear life. And if the front riders bailed out of their own volition because of the wind, you can imagine how difficult it would have been for the back riders, who are far less experienced, and less able to weather the headwind. Other endangering factors to the race were fires near the route in Hout Bay, and some risk to the riders from protesters down in the Southern Peninsula, which had already resulted in the organisers reducing the distance to about 74km. All in all, a wise decision by the organisers on a day of potential conspiring calamities, but bad luck indeed for the riders.

Roy Walsh ZS3RW wrote to tell of a simple incident in his neighbourhood that made him proud to be a HAMNET member. On Sunday 12 March, some fellows from the local clubs played cricket. One of the cricket players got hit by a bouncing cricket ball just above the eye. He should have had stitches but the medics at the field used steristrips and put them on his wound, which worked. After the game the guy wanted to clean his wound not knowing he should not have taken the plasters off.

“At church that evening I saw the wound still bleeding and because he did not have a medical aid I said I would contact someone and this is where the greatness of being a member of HAMNET came in” said Roy.

“I (ZS3RW) called Kobus Jooste ZS3KJ who is also a Paramedic at a local mine. He was very helpful and came to my house where he treated the young lad and off he went. The price? A great cup of coffee that I made for him (ZS3KJ) and his wife. This to me was just something that made me proud to say I am a member of HAMNET, where we could help someone.” Thanks for that Roy, and for being considerate.

From the Malagasy Daily Nation, comes the report that Madagascar has declared a national disaster after last week’s cyclone tore through the northern and eastern parts of the Indian Ocean island, leaving 78 dead and destroying thousands of homes.

According to the country’s National Bureau for Risks and Hazards Preparedness, Cyclone Enawo affected more than 390,000 people with 246,987 left homeless, 18 missing and 250 injured.

Madagascar’s President, Hery Rajaonarimampianina has asked for support from the international community. The Malagasy leader has been visiting the storm-hit areas to offer condolences and show support. He said the government will release a document that will highlight the issues in need of urgent relief.

Meanwhile, a cargo flight carrying 100 tonnes of humanitarian supplies from the United Arab Emirates arrived in the capital Antananarivo on Monday night. The aid includes medicine, food, and shelter kits which will be handed to the Malagasy government by the United Nations. Madagascar, a nation of an estimated 23 million people, has been hit by 46 natural disasters over the last 35 years.

And, for those who don’t live in Durban, the beachfront there was hit by storm-surge type waves on the 12th of March, as a side effect of Madagascar’s Cyclone, which finally spent its last energy on the KZN coast. The waves were not very high, but certainly washed across the front rows of car parking, and up to the doorways of the beachfront restaurants and cafes. Fortunately, the surge was not severe, but evidence that Mother Nature had been hard at work relatively nearby!

In general, the state of the water reservoirs around the country is fairly stable, with all but 2 of the provinces recording increases in dam levels this week, compared with last week and this time last year. Free State levels are 35% higher than this time last year, Gauteng and Kwazulu Natal 5%, Limpopo and Mpumalanga 19%, and North West and Northern Cape at least 40% more than last year. At 63%, the Eastern Cape is 10% down on last year, but the poor old Western Cape is 6% less than last year, at 29%. The situation here is becoming critical, because, apart from potable water for the population, water for industrial and commercial use will soon have to be restricted. Drinking water can always be brought in by tanker, or in bottles for consumers, but thousands of litres for factories and commercial users are harder to import. I wonder whether anyone in the world has considered the idea of building a desalination plant on a ship, which can sail from port to port, and provide emergency supplies where needed. The disadvantage apparently of a desalination plant is that it’s technology and catalytic materials deteriorate and it becomes a liability for the country to which it belongs, if it is not used all the time. Now a floating desalination plant could sail the seas and be used more or less continuously, thus “paying for itself”, so to speak.

Anybody got a couple of hundred million lying around unused, for us to corner this market?

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.