‘The Forgotten residents’

2019-02-19 06:01
Dennis Buggs points to the area earmarked for development next to Freedom Park.PHOTO: EArl Haupt

Dennis Buggs points to the area earmarked for development next to Freedom Park.PHOTO: EArl Haupt

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Residents of Freedom Park are in the dark over the future development of the area.

Dennis Buggs, resident of Freedom Park and chairperson of the area’s steering committee, said the City intended to re-block the informal settlement in 2015, but nothing has been done to date.

“We asked them what they are going to use for this re-blocking and what it means, because are they going to give us houses or what they are going to do? We were told that they are still looking for a solution. The issue is that this was supposed to have happened in 2016, and we are still waiting from that time,” said Buggs.

He said they have been stationed here for almost 24 years and he has his doubts whether re-blocking the area is really a feasible solution for Freedom Park.

“Our area is already overpopulated. The children already have children of their own as they got older. If they are going to re-block, then we are going to have the same problems persisting with more people and we are still waiting for the City to come forth with a solution,” said Buggs.

He said the last time he spoke to his ward councillor, Monty Oliver, was in 2017 – the same time rumours emerged of plans to build houses nearby (“Houses on the cards?”, People’s Post, 6 June 2017).

“I don’t know how we are going to get houses, because we were told that we were only going to get re-blocking, but we cannot accept that. We also want our children to own a house one day, because if we die then they are still here. We are on the database. It looks like everyone who comes here to help, don’t seem to come again after a few years because there is always someone new and so it goes on. The time has come and we cannot wait any longer than this year or the next,” he said.

Residents were part of a meeting at nearby Christel House about the possibility of benefiting from the Pelican Park housing project, but nothing has come of it. However, Buggs said, residents do not want to form part of a mixed housing project.

“When are we going to get houses? We don’t want the same thing which is happening in Pelican Park to happen in this section where we are living. We want a situation where the community can live in harmony among each other, not the way it is over there,” he said.

He added that residents are calling for more to be done in their community.

“Social services over here is very bad, I cannot understand. There are too many children who do not go to school and if we go to the parents to tell them to send the children to school, then we get told they aren’t our children. Your child is my child, but to me it looks like they are telling me otherwise. I try to keep the community together, but the other thing I would like is that the Department of Social Development should come here and find out how many people aren’t going to school and what the youth need,” said Buggs.

In the meantime, he hopes to get a soccer programme off the ground, to be held on an adjacent field in an effort to provide some activity for the children to take part in; however, this too has been met with a muted response.

“I asked the housing lady if they can level the soccer field, then our children will be able to play, but she told us they are going to develop here. We know they are going to develop, but the question is that we want to have the youth playing sport up until the development, then we know we will be able to get another field when they do start developing. They haven’t told us when this development will be happening. You cannot tell us you’re going to put something up there, but you don’t say when it is going to happen. So if you cannot tell us that, you might as well help the youth. They mustn’t just sit and talk about us, but they never come here.”

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