2018-05-01 06:01
Residents say housing and pathway plans are a danger to graves and vegetation

Residents say housing and pathway plans are a danger to graves and vegetation

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With the City of Cape Town reportedly taking too long to commence with plans to permanently relocate Imizamo Yethu fire victims in Hout Bay, the situation is deteriorating.

Local permanent residents say since the victims were temporarily moved to a sports field near the graveyard in their area, there have been damages to the graves and other social ills.

Hundreds of people were left homeless in March last year after their homes were destroyed by fierce flames. They lived on the field until December last year before being moved to Depot Site and Disa Site, but a few continue erecting structures on the field.

Local residents are complaining that the City is turning their community into “a promised land” as it has neglected the victims for over a year now. According to the residents, the City has ignored the interests of the community and turned what could have been a community empowerment facility into an informal residential area and a possible housing development.

Resident Carine Gerdzen says this would create an eyesore and result in an increase in traffic and the need for job opportunities.

“Hout Bay does not need this kind of a project. We are already facing huge problems with traffic and people looking for jobs. With the proposed housing project, things in our community are likely to take a turn for the worse. Due to the informal structures and use of the graveyard as a shortcut, some of the graves have already been damaged.

“There are lots of factors, ecologically and socially. The slope is not good and the type of soil is not suitable for this kind of development. We have already seen erosion over the past days – imagine if the project kicks in. These people have already damaged vegetation,” says Gerdzen.

She says the City has to find another area for housing development and use the piece of land in question for children’s amenities or community upliftment programmes.

Resident Solvej Vorster says: “This ground is totally unsuitable to house hundreds of shacks. There is only one access point shared with the residents of Hughenden and Meadows, and if ever a fire starts no-one will be able to get in or out of the area. Also it is an affront to many that apparently some graves are going to be exhumed to allow a pathway. Also the sewage and water overflow from the site into the graveyard is our concern. The question is, why could the council not simply use the sports field again?”

Mayco member for informal settlements, water and waste services and energy, Xanthea Limberg, confirms that 362 families were temporarily accommodated on the sports field in Hout Bay after the fire. She says the families were then all relocated as the sports field is on a floodplain and was a risk.

Limberg says the illegal building of new, or extension of existing structures is not allowed. “The City will continue to monitor the area and remove illegal structures that prevent the construction of Road 1.”

Regarding a pathway at the graveyard, she says: “In order to allow for future development and the access of vehicles and emergency vehicles, the City has designed a hierarchy of roads in a network that stretches over the entire Imizamo Yethu. The intention is to start with Road 1 whereby the affected residents will be temporarily relocated to the Triangle Site area, for the duration of the construction period. The Triangle Site is located next to an old cemetery on Hugenden Road and we can confirm that no access through the cemetery, vehicular or pedestrian, is planned and that the cemetery will remain intact.”

Limberg says the construction of Road 1 is expected to commence this month once all the processes have been finalised.


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