Jika Joe move protested

2010-06-21 00:00

RESIDENTS of what is called “The Village” in Fitzsimmonds Road have signed a petition protesting Msunduzi Municipality’s plans to move Jika Joe informal settlers to the Tatham Memorial Grounds.

But while Mayor Mike Tarr said he symphathises with the residents and describes the Jika Joe situation as a difficult challenge, he said it is not a new problem for these residents since Jika Joe is “right there already”.

Last month, The Witness reported that councillor Peter Green told Jika Joe residents in a meeting that the government is trying to find “permanent solutions to the housing problems that have plagued the settlement for years”, after 10 shacks were engulfed by a fire in the area.

Green allegedly pointed out the Tatham Memorial sport grounds as one of the identified sites, including the plots occupied by Ally’s Driving School, as temporary shelter and later permanent homes for the estimated 800 families who make up Jika Joe settlers.

However, the Fitzsimmonds Road ratepayers feel these promises have been made at their expense without any consultation whatsoever with them.

Gerrald Harry, who has been appointed the Fitzsimmonds Road Association (FRA) spokesperson, claims that Jika Joe residents were moved into the area they now occupy about 16 to 18 years ago on what should have been a temporary arrangement.

He claims the area used to be playgrounds for village children.

“The Tatham Grounds was donated to the people of the area 50 years ago and councillor Green has no right to make those kinds of promises. People are tired of what is happening and they are unwilling let this one go without a fight,” he said.

Speaking to The Witness last night, Tarr said the move to Tatham grounds will be temporary.

“I sympathise with the ratepayers but the reality is the squatters are already there.

“The present situation at Jika Joe and the slum conditions are against government policy and we can’t continue to allow people to live there. We have to give them basic human rights,” he said.

Tarr said the temporary housing will be erected quickly and will be easy to take down, but the project will allow for essential service such as electricity, water and sanitation to be provided.

He admitted that the people living in the Jika Joe settlement are hugely problematic since some have houses elsewhere and they are renting them out.

Fitzsimmonds Road residents are also unhappy about the continuous power cuts as a result of Jika Joe residents allegedly stealing electricity from them.

While they said Jika Joe residents are being promised big screens and temporary electricity to watch the Soccer World Cup, their food is spoiling because of the constant power cuts. The residents’ other gripes include crime, refuse that is never collected, the lack of street lights and not receiving other services such as the grass being cut.

FRA has been able to raise over 3 000 signatures and will deliver a memorandum to the municipality this week. The association said its members’ cries have been repeatedly ignored.

According to Tarr, the present Jika Joe settlement grounds will be used as sports grounds for the area. He said it they will be fenced to prevent other people from moving in.

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