Land row to stall traffic

2019-09-20 15:00
The side road leading from Bhambatha Way to Allandale Drive may be closed within the next two weeks if land issues between a local businessman and the Msunduzi Municipality are not soon resolved.

The side road leading from Bhambatha Way to Allandale Drive may be closed within the next two weeks if land issues between a local businessman and the Msunduzi Municipality are not soon resolved. (Moeketsi Mamane)

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A major road leading to Allandale Drive from Bambatha Way may be closed within the next two weeks forcing residents to take a detour until a long-standing land dispute between a businessman and the municipality is resolved.

Allandale businessman Yusuf Variawa said he is considering closing the side road to Allandale Drive from Bambatha Way in a desperate bid to get Msunduzi Municipality to come to an agreement with the business over land they have been using without the shop’s consent for the past 23 years.

The shop, Torque It, is situated at the corner of Allandale Drive and Bambatha Way and has been in business since 1987. Torque It shareholder, Variawa, said closing the road could be potentially dangerous to road users, but it was his last resort. “The community knows us well and we know closing the road will cause chaos but we cannot wait another 23 years for this to be resolved. It needs to be resolved now.”

He said the side road and a portion of the traffic island is actually part of their family property but that the municipality had taken the land over in 1996 without their knowledge or consent. After years of trying to come to an agreement with the municipality over the land, the original owner of the business, the late Amod Variawa, took the matter to the Pietermaritzburg high court in 2010.

The business was granted a high court order stating the land was in fact his property and the municipality was given 30 days to remove all structures and equipment from the land.

This was never done.

“The court order gives us the right to remove the structures from our land and retake possession of the road but we haven’t because we do not want to cause an inconvenience to the community. It is such a busy road, and taking the side road away means people will have to make a sharp 90-degree turn to get into Allandale Drive. This could be dangerous.

“We just want this issue resolved. It has been 23 years since it started, where does one draw the line and say enough is enough? We have been far too patient with the municipality.

“It seems our only option may be to close the road which we really don’t want to do,” he said, adding that there had been many meetings with council over the years on the matter but there has not been finality on the resolutions reached in the meetings.

Variawa said he just wanted to come to an agreement with the municipality about the land so he could concentrate on extending his business.

He added that an electricity pylon had been erected on their land but had never been paid rent by the municipality to have it on their land. “If we stop paying our rates and taxes on the land we will be cut off. How is that fair? We want things to be amicable.”

Variawa’s family lawyer, Yusuf Cassim of Durban, who has been liaising and negotiating with the municipality, said that an amicable resolution had been reached many years ago and all that was outstanding was for the municipality and its senior management to ratify and approve the said resolution. The high court order granted in 2010, stated the municipality should be evicted from the land within 30 days of receiving the order.

Msunduzi was also ordered to remove all structures within 30 days of the court order and if that was not done, the Sheriff had the right to remove all machinery and structures at the cost of the municipality. KZN Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI) head Victor Chetty said on Thursday that the road concerned is “extremely busy” and always has cars driving on the road as it is in a “heavy industrial area”.

“The peak traffic hours are morning, noon and night but its still busy throughout the day.”

Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said on Thursday that their land management and legal team will engage with the property owners and their attorneys regarding this matter. “A meeting will be called with the representatives to find amicable solution on the matter,” she said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  traffic
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