Media: N2 Gateway project did not consider rights of residents, says top NGO

17 09 2009

September 14, 2009 Edition 2
WARDA MEYER – Cape Argus

A HUMAN rights NGO affiliated to the UN has released a scathing report on the N2 Gateway project, calling it badly planned and managed.

The Swiss-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (Cohre) said research and available information on the N2 Gateway project pointed to several flaws and acts of non-compliance in its planning and implementation.

The failure of housing authorities to adequately consult people or explore all feasible alternatives was likely to result in human rights violations for Joe Slovo residents, Cohre’s report said.
Ashraf Cassiem, the chairman of the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, said the report echoed their calls for greater public participation in the N2 Gateway project.

They welcomed the report, he said, because it provided structured findings from an international body that documented the plight of ordinary people who had been fighting eviction orders.

The report also found that the N2 Gateway project had progressed without due consideration of the rights of affected people to participate in developments that affect their lives and livelihoods.

It found evidence that the project had been mismanaged and that steps to reach the next phase of the project had been pushed through without adequate preparation.

Cohre said that even though the national and provincial housing departments had been pushing for the relocation of Joe Slovo residents, they were not prepared and did not have the land nor the Temporary Relocation Areas (TRAs) required to house 20 000 people.

Cohre recommended that the minister of housing, the MEC for local government and housing, the Housing Development Agency replacing Thubelisha Homes and the City of Cape Town Council should immediately halt all plans to evict Joe Slovo residents and relocate them to Delft.

It also urged immediate discussions with affected residents in the Delft area, including residents of Tsu-nami TRA and Symphony Way, with a view to find a permanent solution to their housing concerns.

According to the report, mechanisms should be provided for complaints and grievance redress regarding all those relocated from Joe Slovo informal settlement.

It also suggested that a clear timeline and a plan for the provision of permanent housing to all affected people should be provided, ensuring that the plan took into account the needs of local people who were waiting in line for permanent housing as well as those who had been relocated.

Attempts to contact Itumeleng Kotsoane of the Department of Human Settlements last night and this morning were unsuccessful.

The report follows hot on the heels of a new order issued by the Constitutional Court last month, suspending its earlier order and upholding the eviction of 10 000 residents of the Joe Slovo settlement in Langa.

In March last year, Cape Judge President John Hlophe ruled that the Joe Slovo shack dwellers must be evicted to make way for the N2 Gateway Project.

Joe Slovo community leaders took the matter on appeal to the Constitutional Court.

In June, the court upheld Judge Hlophe’s ruling, but ordered that the Joe Slovo residents be removed in phases and placed 20km away in Delft.

But on August 24 the Con-stitutional Court quietly issued a new order suspending the evictions until further notice.

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