‘Trapped inside’

2016-11-01 06:00
 A fence around the housing development in Masiphumelele is a fire risk, warns community workers and residents. PHOTO: Nicole mCCain

A fence around the housing development in Masiphumelele is a fire risk, warns community workers and residents. PHOTO: Nicole mCCain

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A fence around the housing development site in Masiphumelele is a fire risk, according to community workers and residents.

The fence, which was originally erected to demarcate the Platform B temporary relocation area, has some residents hemmed in between two fences in the shape of a triangle. The fence could restrict their escape in the case of a fire, community workers says.

The fence was removed two weeks ago, but a second fence was erected shortly after.

Benedicta van Minnen, Mayco member for human settlements, says the new fence has been installed to prevent people from entering the Masiphumelele Phase 4 construction site.

“Entering the site would be a health and safety risk,” she says.

“[The fence was removed] once everyone had settled. The fence had no purpose and was removed to make it possible for people to escape in case of fire. The new fence was installed to prevent people from entering the construction site. Gates were installed at the end of the pedestrian and emergency vehicle routes. These gates are not locked,” she says.

Community workers say their concern is that the gates were placed intermittently, and, depending on where a fire occurs, residents could still be trapped.

However, Van Minnen says: “The new fence was placed away from the relocation platform boundary, so there is space to move between the fence and the structures.

Escape route“As an additional precautionary measure, four panels from the permanent fence on the north side of the platform were removed to make it possible for people to escape easily should there be a fire.”

The construction site for civil services in the development straddles the whole length of the fence, so the fence cannot be made shorter, Van Minnen adds.

The first stage of the City of Cape Town’s housing project, earmarked for qualifying applicants living in Masiphumelele backyards and the informal settlement in the wetland, will see the construction of 227 fully serviced sites on which subsidised units will be built at a later stage (“Work set to begin on Masiphumele housing”, People’s Post, 11 October).

The development will be constructed between the existing formal area and the sports fields.

R50m has been allocated. If all goes according to plan, the civil services will be done by June next year, while the houses will be built between July next year and June 2018.

Construction on the houses will start when the temporary relocation area is decommissioned.

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