Residents’ concerns addressed

2015-11-12 06:00
 Photo: darshan rangai Officials from the mayor’s office and councillor Chocks Arunajallam address concerns over service delivery and land in Hazelmere on Monday.

Photo: darshan rangai Officials from the mayor’s office and councillor Chocks Arunajallam address concerns over service delivery and land in Hazelmere on Monday.

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RESIDENTS from Hazelmere who protested last month and over the weekend over their grievances met with government officials at the Hazelmere community hall on Monday.

Among the residents’ grievances were electricity, running water, housing, lack of a school, tar roads and a clinic.

A leader in the community, Princess Mbatha said that residents are growing impatient for an improvement in services and that’s what has spurred their protests.

“I’m living in Hazelmere from 1993 and my family and I live in a mud house. When it rains parts of [the house] collapses. We need housing in Hazelmere,” said Mbatha.

She said once the issue of housing is addressed then they know that they will get water and electricity in their homes and roads can be built.

At the meeting it was made clear by the officials that this can’t happen because the land which the residents are living on is privately owned.

Residents however claimed they didn’t know this and because they were told municipality can’t do anything on privately owned land, several community members walked out of the meeting.

“We want to see this proof and if it is privately owned then municipality must buy the land and build us houses because we can’t keep living like this. We need electricity and water because the elderly especially can’t keep fetching water from the stand pipes. If we get houses at least we can get this in our homes,” said Mbatha.

Ward councillor Chocks Arunajallam explained that the eThekwini Municipality can’t build a house on property owned by another person or provide municipal services to illegal occupants, but government is doing everything possible to improve the quality of life in Hazelmere.

“The land is privately owned by ratepayers on the municipality’s rates database,” said Arunajallam. We will have to buy the land, but if we don’t buy the land, there is nothing we can do.”

Arunajallam said several factors will need to still be considered thereafter such as budget plans and environmental impact assessments. “If anybody does however feel they have claim to a piece of land then they must go to the land claims court in Pietermaritzburg.”

Regarding water issues, Arunajallam said a 2.5 million rand project to build a reservoir at the top of Hazelmere is currently underway and construction should begin in the coming weeks.

The project began more than three years ago when land had to be expropriated first for the construction of a water pump station to pump water to the reservoir, this pump has since been completed and phase 2 is about to begin.

“This will feed the whole of Hazelmere and in the long term a sewer line and ablution facilities,” said Arunajallam.

He said there was previously a clinic in the community around 10 years ago, but because it was easier for people to take a taxi to a Verulam clinic rather than travel by foot to the local one, it eventually became run down and closed, but a mobile clinic does run in the area.

The issue of schooling, Arunajallam explained that although schools are a provincial and national sector, he and community members conducted a survey five years ago and it showed there weren’t enough pupils to sustain classrooms with even 15 children.

“The population in the last 2-3 years has almost quadrupled and maybe another survey may prove positive,” said Arunajallam who added that this information could then be used to motive for a local school.

Another meeting is expected to take place between members of the Hazelmere community and officials again next month when these grievances will further be dealt with.

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