Scramble for land vs proper land use Vulindlela housing developments are increasing currently at an alarming rate >> There are high upmarket houses being developed... It is both an opportunity and a problem.>>

2015-12-02 06:00

THERE must be proper communication between the Msunduzi Municipality and traditional leaders in the scramble for land and development in the Vulindlela area.

During a sitting of the economic development portfolio committee recently at the city hall, service provider Isikhungosethu Consulting said the municipality should waste no time in establishing a forum with traditional Vulindela leaders to find amicable strategies to this escalating crisis.

The report dealt specifically with a combination of issues and vision development.

This came to light when Isikhungosethu Consulting presented a progress report on phase three of the local area planning of Vulindlela.

Isikhungosethu’s Sipho Mathobela said that Vulindlela has become a free for all as people are flocking to the area­. “Take a giant leap as the municipality, not later but now. If we don’t do it now our kids [sic] will inherit the same problem. If we don’t do it now, come the end of your term whoever will come after you will inherit the same problem.

“Unfortunately, the levels at which the problem is today will not be at a level at which the problem will be tomorrow. It is growing. Go to Vulindlela, people are flocking to that area. People from outside South Africa are flocking to that area. It’s a free for all. We are sitting with evidence that if we don’t deal with that head-on very soon it [the issue] will be in this room,” said Mathobela.

Vulindlela housing developments are increasing currently at an alarming rate. New home owners say they buy pockets of land from traditional leaders. However, with the Msunduzi Municipality having acquired some areas of Vulindella from uMgungundlovu Municipality, infrastructure developments, service delivery issues and development in general, are of main concern. In return this compromises proper land use management and spatial planning of Vulindela.

Mathobela said that power is what seems to be dividing the municipality and traditional leaders.

“It is documented and it’s your information that amakhosi are of the view, or hold the view, that the municipality does not want to work with them whereas on the other hand councillors are saying that amakhosi do not want to work with them,” said Mathobela.

However, he was of the view that izinduna believe they have the right to allocate land, whereas municipal councillors believe they have power to develop the area.

“There are perceptions and there are suspicions. If those are left unattended, Vulindela will remain the same. There were issues and the amakhosi requested the municipality to give them funds so they can be seen as driving development. We dealt with that - these are public funds and need broader planning processes,” explained Mathobela. Isikhungosethu’s Mike Povall said that Vulindlela’s population is growing rapidly.

“Population growth is an important issue regarding Vulindlela. It’s experiencing very high population growth. A lot of people have access to the city through this area. If you look at the dynamics across the country, the rural areas are losing population and those people are moving to the cities. It is mostly because this is where the opportunities are and a perception of a better life is.

“People will keep coming to Msunduzi and the population will keep growing above the national average. Population in Vulindlela is certain to grow at a very high rate. It is not something we can stop. It is going to happen whether we like it or not. Just be aware of it and try to plan for it,” said Povall.

He said that 77% of the population in Vulindlela is unemployed.

Povall said there has to be plans in place to come up with a strategic framework that will guide future public and private investment.

“During the course of our consultations it was established that as the municipality there are planning processes that you are involved in which somehow run parallel with planning processes which involves amakhosi.

“We need to come up with a clear strategy on how we deal with that issue of ensuring that when we plan for that area we plan in a coherent and integrated way. We need to have a clear vision of what types of developments are required to deal with the issues.

“There is a need to promote land use with the view of protecting and sustaining the natural environment and cultural heritage in that area,” explained Povall. He highlighted the lack of planning in the area.

“There are high upmarket houses being developed, you can say, by an upmarket developer. Almost certainly there is no approved plan and this is happening in many parts of Vulindlela. Around Hanley Dam it is quite notable. Quite often they target the top of the hills. It is both an opportunity and a problem.

“It’s an opportunity that somebody or some people believe is the place where you can invest in high-end residential dwellings and attract investment. On the negative side there is no planning of proper infrastructure in that area. The agricultural and environmental potential is an important resource for the area. Hanley Dam has big problems, but is an area of opportunity,” said Povall. Vulindela is in need of police stations and health facilities. Povall told the economic development portfolio committee,

“Primary schools are generally well covered in Vulindlela. It’s the same thing with secondary schools, but there are other areas that are inaccessible. When looking at the areas covered by clinics the situation is not very good. The first level of health care is not well provided for in Vulindlela. Much of the area is served by regional hospitals. “Vulindlela is not served by police stations. There is only one at Taylor’s Halt and to some extent to the eastern side closer to Edendale. Sports facilities are almost non-existent. Libraries are very poorly served. Our analysis has confirmed some of these issues.”

Important strategies to the dilemma include the fact that the plan of Vulindlela should allow people to access services, densification should be dealt with to improve access to services and to improve service cost, to protect, rehabilitate and enhance the environmental assets, increase and improve economic spaces, define and strengthen spatial structure of Vulindlela and to control, improve and enhance enforcement of legal infringement and unplanned settlement.

“We need to work together so that we realise the developments. If we do not have one vision we will not go anywhere,” said the chairperson of the economic development portfolio committee, councillor Eunice Majola.

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