'Not my area' - ANC and DA ward councillors disown informal settlement

2020-02-26 16:24
Bayland informal settlement residents blocked the R75 Uitenhage Road with burning tyres and storm water pipes on Monday and Tuesday to demand basic services. (Mkhuseli Sizani, GroundUp)

Bayland informal settlement residents blocked the R75 Uitenhage Road with burning tyres and storm water pipes on Monday and Tuesday to demand basic services. (Mkhuseli Sizani, GroundUp)

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More than 200 residents of the Bayland informal settlement near Joe Slovo in Port Elizabeth have been blocking the R75 in Uitenhage with burning tyres, stormwater pipes and rocks since Monday. They are demanding electricity, toilets and water, reports GroundUp.

The settlement exploded after residents discovered they were not included in the budget tabled in the council last Thursday.

The residents blocked the Algoa Bus Company's main route with burning tyres. Vehicles from Uitenhage, Despatch and Port Elizabeth had to be redirected to Perseverance Road before Public Order Police dispersed the protesters with rubber bullets.

Bayland was established in 2017 by people from various townships across the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro. Most were backyarders in Joe Slovo. They hired a bulldozer to clear the thick bush in order to erect their shacks.

The municipality demolished their shacks at first, but in 2018, after former mayor Mongameli Bobani froze land evictions, the settlement grew rapidly.

After protests in 2019, community leader Mabhuti Ndoni said, officials promised them electricity, toilets and taps.

"On Friday, we went to the office of the chief whip and were told there was no budget for us and that has angered residents," said Ndoni.

"We are about 2 000 shack dwellers and we only received three communal taps. Those taps are at the entry points to this area. The rest of the people near Perseverance Road share water from a leaking pipe with cows," he added.

The mayco member for infrastructure, Andile Lungisa, was not available for comment. But earlier this month, he advised the residents to liaise with their ward councillors.

Complicating matters further is that residents do not know which ward they fall under. Ward 41 councillor Simphiwe Tyukana, whose office is across from the R75, was called on by the police to address the residents.

"I told them they don't belong in my ward. They belong to Ward 52, to councillor Francois Greyling of the DA," he said. "I promised them that I will assist them and call the relevant officials… But now I am surprised they are [still] protesting."

Greyling said the community fell under Tyukana.

"Definitely not mine. You can see on the ward map," he added.

The assistant regional manager of the SA Electoral Commission, Crosby Bacela, said it was difficult to tell where the community belonged.

"From March 16, we will roll out a project called know your ward. We will visit all the new informal settlements to resolve the demarcation problems. This will help the councillors too because they don't know their demarcations… As soon as we take our co-ordinates in these areas, we will be able to tell where they belong."

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  port elizabeth  |  protests  |  service delivery

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