Out front gate and into a walI

2010-07-01 00:00

TRENCHES have been dug, and plans have been submitted for a wall that will isolate residents of a small lane that runs between Chota Motala and Tulshi roads.

The wall will form the outer boundary of a new Osman supermarket parking lot.

The new development has taken over the lane and restricts residents’ access to their homes.

A concerned tenant said that before it was destroyed, the lane functioned as a thoroughfare for vehicles.

“Before, an ambulance or truck could come through. Now, should an emergency arise we are helpless. What if a fire were to break out?” she asked.

Most residents are now forced to use a plank as a makeshift bridge to cross over the trench outside their front doors.

An elderly resident said she slipped and fell into the trench while traversing the gap on a rickety plank.

“I even sprained my ankle trying to get out of the house,” she said.

The Witness discovered the row of affected homes was built long before Raisethorpe was developed into a suburb. As a result, the homes have no official building plans.

Although the structures are technically illegitimate, they house at least five families.

Should the building of the wall be approved, the widest space between the wall and the residents’ properties will be around one metre.

One house on Tulshi Road will have no space at all, and its inhabitants will walk — quite literally — out of their front gate into a solid wall.

As owners of the land in question, the Osman group said it is entitled to build a new supermarket and that plans for the development were approved last year.

But controversy has surfaced regarding the approval of the building plans.

According to the town planning scheme, the property falls into two zones: “general business” and “general residential”.

The front half of the property (the portion facing Chota Motala Road) may legally be developed into a supermarket, as it falls into the general business zone.

The second half of the property (the half that affects the residents of “Mattison Lane”) falls into the general residential zone and may not be developed into a walled parking lot.

Raisethorpe councillor Manilal Inderjit confirmed plans for the wall were submitted to the municipality.

“Until those plans have been approved, not a single drop of concrete can be poured into those trenches.”

Inderjit promised to personally visit the site, and said he would assess the residents’ dilemma.

Osman engineer Faizel Bhyat said the dispute boiled down to “bad town planning”.

“For some reason, the municipality has got [the property] zoned as two separate areas. That is stupid. How can you have two zones on one property?” he asked.

He said the tenants of the homes on “Mattison Lane” should not make objection to the building, as it is their homes that violate regulations, not the development. “We must look at the properties that are illegal, not at our property, which is completely legal,” he said. “The municipality is more interested in the complaints of those who have built illegal structures,” he stressed.

Jack Maistry, landlord to tenants living in one of the affected properties, said he supports the Osman development.

“Believe me, those guys are not doing anything wrong. As soon as they have erected the wall I will make some sort of arrangement for the tenants,” he said.

Until a decision has been made, residents will continue to cross planks of wood to enter and exit their homes.

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