Media: Kewtown demands inclusion in City renovations

10 08 2009

2009-08-10 14:15:33 – Cape Argus and Voice of the Cape

The Athlone Anti-Eviction Campaign has been going door-to-door in Kewtown gathering support for a petition against what it claims is the City’s lack of proper planning for the area. The campaign said yesterday it was attempting to ensure that the voices of residents of the area were heard.

But the City has hit back, saying that a consultation process is still under way and that community liaison officers and steering committees have been appointed. Grace Blouw, the city’s manager for existing housing, said a dedicated, substantial communication campaign was being run as part of the city’s planning efforts in the area.

The anti-eviction campaign said the petition would be used as a platform from which to launch a campaign that would include a list of demands being formally submitted to the city authorities, challenging the planned renovation of the area. Although upgrades were in the pipeline, an angry community claimed it had been excluded from the process. And it wanted to see work in the area given to unemployed people who lived there, rather than to outside contractors.

Last month, the Cape Argus reported that Kewtown was among 10 areas in which nearly 8 000 council houses and flats had been targeted for upgrading. Upgrades include maintenance repairs, internal and external painting, and general improvements to the outside facilities. At the time, the City acknowledged that a “planned programme” was needed to remedy the various problems in the ageing homes, such as damp and defective plumbing.

The revamp is part of a national upgrade programme, funded by the City’s annual housing subsidy allocation. The July 22 report said project steering committees were established in each of the areas for community liaison, and that funding approval had already been given for Kewtown, Scottsville and Scottsdene.

But yesterday Manuel Dyers, a Kewtown community representative, said the City needed to try to better understand the needs of the people. “We appreciate them dealing with our housing issues, but that’s just one of our problems. We are struggling with unemployment and instead of looking for a handout, we are willing to work for it,” he said. Blouw said it was part of the City’s strategy to appoint local people as far as possible for the work.

“Obviously, this depends on the skills available among local communities, because it is essential that the people who do the work do it properly. This project has not even gone to tender yet and we are still finalising the kind of temporary housing and how it will be set up,” Blouw said.

Residents also expressed concern over having to temporarily leave their homes during the renovations, despite alternative accommodation being provided. Mahierah Adams, a 40-year-old mother of two, said although her home was in bad shape, it was still better than any of the City’s temporary homes. “They want us to stay in those big containers with no heat. I want my children to be warm at night.” CAPE ARGUS

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