A demand for services

2019-02-26 06:00
Backyarder Louise Jones says that she would like the City to install electricity box for backyarders in the community in order to avoid causing an inconvenience to their landlords.PHOTO: THABANG KUAHO

Backyarder Louise Jones says that she would like the City to install electricity box for backyarders in the community in order to avoid causing an inconvenience to their landlords.PHOTO: THABANG KUAHO

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Backyard dwellers in Factreton have expressed their disappointed at the City of Cape Town for allegedly not heeding their call for help.

Among their concerns, some of the backyarders dwellers say they have to share toilets and electricity bills with their landlords, which often causes inconvenience.

Chrislane September, who rents at Ricardo Roodd’s house, says that her life has not been easy for since her shack caught fire five years ago.

“Since then, we have not had electricity boxes installed,” September said.

She is currently connected to a neighbour’s electricity supply.

“My mother lives next door to me and I get electricity from her, with the condition that I buy electricity units. I spend a lot of money on electricity, which causes an inconvenience to me,” she said.

Although Roodd has an electricity box he said all was not well.

“After the fire, City officials came to install a new electricity box, but that is all there was to it,” Roodd said. He added that only one plug was fixed and the rest were not.

“This affects everyone badly because we can only use one appliance at a time,” he said.

Roodd shares a toilet with his tenants.

Sixty-nine-year-old Hester Cupido’s house burnt down in 2017, resulting in the death of her son. “It hurts so much to know that the fire was caused by an electricity fault,” she said.

She said the City installed two electricity boxes in 2011 but they were problematic from day one. There was one in the main house and one for the backyard dwellers. A third box was supposed to be installed in another shack in the back, but this was never done. “There were complications with one. I think there was a short-circuit or something and it caused the fire. My house also burnt in the fire it has been a nightmare ever since,” Cupido said.

Between the main house and the three shacks in her backyard, Cupido said, they spend between R120 and R150 on electricity weekly.

Cupido’s daughter Louise Jones stays in one of the shacks at the back and says to get her own electricity has been a nightmare.

“I went to see the councillor in October last year and she promised that people would come to install the electricity boxes, but that has still not happened.

“I went again in December and she said that people were going on holiday and that I should wait for February. February is almost over and that had not happened,” Jones said.

Jones said that this frustrates her because ward 54 councillor Helen Jones knows of their living situation.

“She (councillor) was here when the fire broke. She knows what we are going through, but still does not do anything.”

Commenting on the claims against her, Jacobs said she was aware of the problems in the community. She said the electrification project will start soon.

“We are aware of the issues that backyarders have... Extra electricity meters will be given to the backyarders that do not have them,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs added that only three backyard structures in a property are eligible to get meters.

“We cannot give more than three meters per yard,” she said.

She said that the reason some of the backyard dwellers do not have meters was because the contract with the service provider had expired before the the work was completed.

Jacobs added that construction of toilets was in the process.

Mayco member for human settlements in the City of Cape Town, Malusi Booi, said: “We are doing out utmost as a City to improve the living conditions of our people amid high rates of urbanisation and associated lack of affordable accommodation,” he said.

Booi said engagements will be undertaken to determine if these backyarders really stay on council-owned property.

“The City intends implementing in-fill projects in backyarder areas previously serviced in order to service those who did not benefit from previous rounds of the service roll-outs.

“All backyarders are also encouraged to apply to see if they qualify for a housing opportunity,” he said.

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