Western Cape protesters damage water supply project in week-long protest

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An excavator belonging to a City contractor was set alight during protests in Khayelitsha last week. (Photo: City of Cape Town/Supplied)
An excavator belonging to a City contractor was set alight during protests in Khayelitsha last week. (Photo: City of Cape Town/Supplied)
  • Protest action in Khayelitsha has resulted in damage to construction equipment at a City of Cape Town project.
  • The R162-million project aims to improve the water supply to sections of Khayelitsha.
  • During recent protests, an excavator was set alight and vandalised.

Several days of violent protest action in Khayelitsha last week resulted in damage to the tune of around R3 million to equipment at a City of Cape Town water supply project.

The construction equipment at the Baden Powell Drive bulk water pipeline project was damaged last Tuesday.

Service delivery protests in Kraaifontein, Khayelitsha and Mfuleni continued over four days and major highways, including the N2 and R300, were closed. One protester was killed when he was hit by a truck, and four police officers were injured. A bus was set alight, tyres were burnt and stones were thrown at vehicles.

Mayor Dan Plato said an excavator belonging to a City contractor, which was valued at about R3.5 million, was set alight, during the illegal protests.

The contractor performs specialist micro-tunnelling services to connect new bulk water infrastructure to the existing Khayelitsha supply across the N2 and Baden Powell Drive.

READ HERE | Early morning protests close Cape Town roads

The R162-million project involves the installation of more than six kilometres of new bulk water supply pipeline. The pipeline will bring 1 410 litres of water per second to the eastern sections of Khayelitsha, improving water pressure to households in the area.

Khayelitsha Development Forum (KSF) chairperson Ndithini Tyhido said destruction to the "meagre infrastructure that Khayelitsha has" could hamper development in the area.

"It is our considered view that any act of destruction of infrastructure or any (attacks) on personnel working on infrastructure installations or servicing, by anyone under any circumstances is aimed at making the area undevelopable, hence pushing it further back into squalor," he said.

"We're calling on those who organise different protest action to give care to not fall into the trap of cutting their noses off to spite their faces."

READ | Protesters set bus on fire, block Cape Town highways and roads

The project was also targeted during protests last year, Plato said, which resulted in around R6.5 million in damage.

"These violent acts, committed by individuals falsely claiming to represent the interests of vulnerable communities, cause delays to construction work, pushing out the project completion date. The City's water and sanitation department and its contractors will nonetheless continue doing everything possible to ensure progress is sustained, and residents of Enkanini, Makaza, Kuyasa, Harare and surrounding areas are able to enjoy the enhanced services as soon as possible," said Plato.

Tyhido called on the City to "justly and speedily respond" to protesters' demands to provide basic services to informal settlements.

"Whilst the KDF supports the resettlement of all homeless people in our area, it does not condone the illegal occupation of strategic pieces of land earmarked for Khayelitsha's development. It is the KDF's view that the City's non-responsiveness to the demands of formations representing these communities … is nothing but a deliberate political instrument it uses not to service the people of Khayelitsha as a whole and is some absurd way of punishing them all for not having voted for the party that governs the municipality."

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