Hand up

2015-05-05 06:00

Poverty stricken and living in an informal settlement, thousands of shackdwellers are looking for a way to raise their children in better conditions.

Topping the priority list is a home built with bricks which does not flood every winter.

Electricity without the dangers of an illegal connection is a close second.

Add to that clean running water which does not have to be carried in a bucket from a tap several meters away.

But often, the City of Cape Town’s alternatives given to informal settlement dwellers come at far too high a price – a move from Maitland to Mfuleni or from the Cape Town CBD to Strandfontein.

Such moves will make it near impossible for these low-income groups to keep their jobs or visit their families.

And when informal settlement dwellers raise these issues, they are often met with the immovable response: “Take it or leave it.”

But the City is more than capable of bending over backwards for those they feel deserve it.

Daily council makes concessions to big developers, allowing them to build too close to the road or neighbouring boundary walls.

These concessions see buildings springing up too high on the mountain or at the expense of heritage fabric.

The recipients of such concessions are often corporations worth millions, who give little back.

Are they really the ones council should be giving concessions to? Where is the pro-poor planning to complement the City’s claims to pro-poor spending?

We need holistic solutions that cover all sectors of society, effective changes that reduce the income gap and housing proposals that go hand-in-hand with a sense of dignity.

If council wants to give a developer a concession, let’s see both of them hold out a helping hand first

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