Fire risk: problem is backlog in housing

2010-08-11 00:00

ABOUT 400 000 informal settlement dwellers in Durban will continue to face fire disasters for years to come because it will take their municipality up to 20 years to provide them with proper houses.

The Durban Metropolitan Municipality said this yesterday following a fire at the Kennedy Road informal settlement on Sunday night that left thousands of people without shelter. It is alleged that the fire started as a result of a short in an illegal electricity connection.

The municipality said the fire, which continued into Monday morning, gutted between 500 and 600 shacks and left 2 000 residents without homes. But police spokesperson Colonel Vincent Mdunge and an official from municipality fire department said up to 4 000 people were left homeless after 2 000 homes were destroyed.

In a statement, municipal manager Michael Sutcliffe said: “Obviously the long-term solution to these disasters is the provision of proper housing and the city is doing everything to increase the rate of housing provision. But the present backlog in housing provision will take between 10 and 20 years to eradicate.

“In the meantime, we will continue our efforts to educate our people about fire safety.”

Durban Metro spokesperson Thabo Mofokeng said the municipality is still looking for a way to intervene to ease the shortage.

He said that there are 567 informal settlements in Durban, and that the city is facing a backlog of about 200 000 houses.

“There are currently 400 000 people living in informal settlements.”

Mofokeng said building houses is not yet a means of addressing the situation, “For now we are conducting a campaign to prevent fire outbreaks. The ultimate solution will be for them to get proper houses,” said Mofokeng.

He said a number of people in various settlements have been arrested for connecting electricity illegally.


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