Protest sparks action

2019-04-02 06:01
Ottery residents took to the streets last week as frustrations around the Edward Road housing project boiled over.

Ottery residents took to the streets last week as frustrations around the Edward Road housing project boiled over.

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Following a series of protests which disrupted Parkwood and Ottery in recent weeks, councillor for the ward William Akim has confirmed that 130 houses will now be built on the Edward Road site earmarked for the project.

“The situation in the Ottery area is a bit calm now. They handed over some concerns and issues they had, the leaders of the Ottery area in this case was two or three pastors who spoke on behalf of the safety of the residents in the Ottery area. They raised some concerns regarding the Edward Road housing project,” says Akim.

He adds that he met with the community in February to discuss the next phase of the project.

“It is important that the community needs to be informed of the processes about what this is all about,” he says.

Following a meeting with the Edward Road housing project steering committee on Tuesday 26 February, Akim suggested a notice board to be put on the site to say that the area has been earmarked for the project.

“The department are busy getting the rights for advertising and getting the consultants sorted out so they can have the correct wording in place on the notice board,” says Akim.

He adds that over the years, a lot of negative information was given to the community. He says residents were made to believe that the project would not happen with claims that some of the money had been stolen. “The 130 houses will be built. I am 100% sure. The time frame that was given to us was probably within the next 18 months,” Akim explains.

Residents, most of whom are registered beneficiaries for the proposed project are frustrated at the continual delay of a project.

A series of meetings was held, with more than 200 people attending Thursday’s meeting with subcouncil manager Fred Monk and chairperson Shanen Rossouw.

“The majority of the people were not happy with the response that the project is delayed for another 18 months. People are frustrated and we made a challenge to Mayor Dan Plato to come to us today in Ottery. There is a meeting planned for today after 13:00. The project is delayed again,” laments a spokesperson of the Edward Road housing project steering committee Wade Mathews.

Meanwhile, despite Plato’s visit to Ottery, Akim says another meeting will be held at subcouncil 18’s officers with the relevant officials tasked with driving the project.

According to City records, money has been allocated to consultants which were appointed to the project, which has been confirmed by Akim.

“There should not be any delays because the money has been budgeted for that. The mere fact that it jumped from 104 houses initially, to 130, gives you surety that the houses will be built. The beneficiaries on the Edward Road housing project will be informed and will be part of the discussions which will be taking place with the project,” he says.

He hopes temporary job opportunities be given to the residents of Ottery.

“There should not be outsiders coming to work in Ottery. It should be those in Ottery who should be getting a housing opportunity,” says Akim.

However, not all housing news in the area was gloomy as two registered beneficiaries, on the housing waiting list as far as 1991, are moving into rental units in Parkwood.

Akim says: “We had two vacant flats in the Parkwood area where residents from the housing waiting list from 1990 and 1991 got the housing opportunity. I am pleased with that, because that will eliminate the protests and the uncertainty of how it works. Two residents have been on the waiting list for 27 years and they have a place there. I just received a message from the housing manager that they have interviewed the tenant now and is moving in with immediate effect. I am happy for that.”

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