Mayor counts costs of

2017-09-05 06:00

Around R4m a year is spent by the municipality on cleaning Masiphumelele.

This emerged when mayor Patricia de Lille, public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane and South African Human Rights commissioner Chris Nissen visited Masiphumelele on Thursday.

In a statement after the visit, De Lille said the City of Cape Town was “spending R1m per quarter on cleaning services in the ­area”.

The visit was to inspect and report on the work that the City is doing in the area, following a meeting between City officials and the public protector’s office.

Masiphumelele is a severely overcrowded area, De Lille says.

“As a result of the high densities in Masiphumelele, in order to improve the conditions in the area and address health risks, the City provides cleaning services seven days a week. There are many obstacles to providing services in Masiphumelele for a variety of structural reasons. Residents settled on the wetland area despite the legal impediments to installing electricity and sanitation infrastructure there, and the City has been in the process of systematically remedying this situation for many years.”

De Lille says she receives weekly reports on the cleaning tasks done in the area and City officials have undertaken a campaign to communicate with residents directly to help stem the tide of solid waste blockages.

She reported to the public protector on service delivery in the area.

Despite providing refuse collection seven days a week and litter pick-ups on a near-daily basis, high levels of littering and illegal dumping mean that the area is never clean for long, De Lille says.

However, community activist Rosemary Milbank has disputed the City’s claims of ongoing service.

“The City has done nothing to remedy the situation. They have watched the deterioration of the situation for years and have denied the terrible life-threatening conditions. That is why two directives have been issued against the City by the director of environmental enforcement and the Human Rights commissioner and the public protector have stepped in now.”

Milbank has called for a timeline for housing developments, saying housing is needed immediately.

She has also lambasted the City for a lack of communication with residents.

“The City has never worked with the community. That is a lie. There is absolutely no political interference – this is shocking propaganda and is causing huge anger in the community,” she says.

De Lille also informed the public protector about some of the projects that are under way, including the construction of 227 state-subsidised houses, plans for a new minibus-taxi facility and the proposed extension of Houmoed Avenue.

Space for houses“In terms of land availability for development in Masiphumelele, the City has informed the public protector that we are exploring a number of options, including making a new application to build housing opportunities on another part of the site where we are already busy with the Phase 4 development,” De Lille says.

“A previous application to build housing on this site was turned down, but the City has notified the Western Cape government department of environmental affairs and development planning that we intend to reapply for development of this site. In terms of the plans to build a fire station in the area, the City is reducing the imprint of the fire station to make 87% of the land available for high-density formal housing.”

The City previously appointed a mediator to facilitate engagement between officials and residents but the community did not accept this offer, De Lille says.

“The public protector advised that her office can act as a mediator. We welcome this and have asked for an update in this regard,” she says.

“Finally, I am making an appeal to all political parties not to exploit the situation in the area. When the City wanted to provide additional sanitation services with portable flush toilets, the community was incited not to accept it.

“Out of desperation to keep the area clean, we have now printed pamphlets which we are distributing to residents appealing to the community to help us keep the area clean.”

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