The big job that awaits new mayor

9 05 2011

May 9 2011 at 11:15am – IOL – CLAYTON BARNES


CA_blikkiesdorp 1Blikkiesdorp residents say they won’t vote in next week’s elections because their living conditions havent changed despite promises made by politicians in election campaigns in previous years.

A TOUGH task awaits the political party that takes control of the City of Cape Town after next Wednesday’s municipal elections.

And at the top of the new mayor’s to-do list will be the city’s housing crisis, with an estimated backlog of close to half a million.

Other challenges include:

l Developing and implementing a plan for Cape Town’s more than 240 informal settlements.

l Redeveloping Blikkiesdorp, a temporary relocation area (TRA) in Delft, or moving the area’s more than 7 000 residents to a new site.

l Ensuring job creation and small business opportunities. (bold dot here pls)Enclosing more than 1 316 toilets in Makhaza, Khayelitsha.

l Ensuring that the city’s multibillion-rand integrated rapid transit (IRT) system and the Cape Town Stadium are sustainable, and that the IRT project is rolled out to where the majority of the city’s public transport commuters live.

The city’s housing waiting list stands at 400 000. This excludes several thousand backyarders and street dwellers who are not registered on the city’s database.

In Blikkiesdorp, there is only one toilet and tap for every five metal structures.

In 2007, the Western Cape High Court ruled that 20 000 Joe Slovo residents relocate to Blikkiesdorp so that Joe Slovo could be developed. Most of those residents are still staying in the metal structures today.

Since its establishment four years ago, the sandy, fenced site with grim rows of grey metal shacks has become a home to evictees, vagrants and victims of xenophobic violence.

A few hundred shacks once housed families from Delft who had illegally invaded and occupied homes that formed part of the controversial N2 Gateway housing project in 2007.

Today there are more than 1 600 structures in Blikkiesdorp with electricity and communal toilets and water taps.

ANC mayoral candidate Tony Ehrenreich said it was a “disgrace” that the city continued to keep people living in a “concentration camp” when there was government-owned land available in Constantia.

“When the ANC takes over the city, we will build low-cost houses in Constantia and other areas where the government owns land,” said Ehrenreich.

DA metro chairman and social development mayoral committee member Grant Pascoe said Blikkiesdorp came about through an “irresponsible act” by a former DA councillor, but that the city was doing its best to provide services to the area.

The former councillor Pascoe referred to is Frank Martin who, in December, 2007, led the invasion of unfinished N2 Gateway houses.

Deputy mayor and the city’s finance mayoral committee member Ian Neilson admitted that housing was the city’s biggest challenge.

He said it was impossible to expect any administration to address Cape Town’s housing backlog in five or 10 years.

“That is a 30-year project,” said Neilson. “We have to be honest. We will not adhere to the housing needs of everyone in a short period. But what we can do is provide services – water, sanitation, electricity and basic health care facilities.”

The city is expected to launch parts of phase 1A of the IRT from Blouberg to the city centre today.

ANC provincial chairman Marius Fransman said that should the ANC wrest control of the city from the DA, the party would assess the IRT strategy and reroute those buses to Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha, “where it is needed the most”, and devise a route along the Klipfontein corridor into the city.

“The IRT along the Milnerton route will never be sustainable,” said Fransman. “The mere fact that they are launching the service in that area shows that the DA is only serving the wealthy. They have declared war on the poor.”

And the Makhaza toilet saga is also far from over.

The city is only likely to enclose the toilets after the elections, and residents vow they will not accept anything less than brick-enclosed toilets.

Last week, Judge Nathan Erasmus ordered the city to enclose the toilets, saying the city’s failure to enclose the facilities – part of the Silvertown housing project – violated seven sections of the constitution. However, the city says it is still studying the judgment and is still undecided as to how the toilets will be enclosed, and when.

The city said Judge Erasmus failed to spell out what kind of toilets needed to be built, and did not stipulate a time frame.

The ANC said the city should enclose the toilets before next Wednesday.

clayton.barnes@inl.co.za

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