By mid-year the residents of Garden City informal settlement in Mfuleni should be enjoying the benefits of a R22 million upgrade being undertaken by the City of Cape Town.
Up to 200 people have moved back to the area and when Vukani visited, they were busy rebuilding their shacks.
Before the upgrade, residents had been living in congested conditions, with no streets or ablution facilities.
Community leader Malibongwe Yisa has described the move and the fight for a better life as “long and emotional’’.
“It has been a long journey but it is worth the try. I am happy that people are now in good spirits. This has been really emotional to many of us who led the project. There were times when we would fight but get back to the work. Today it is just feelings of excitement and anxiety,” said Mr Yisa.
In total, the project comprises 467 individual serviced sites for qualifying beneficiaries from the Garden City informal settlement and surrounding community. Upgrades are expected to be completed by June 2021 by which time the remainder of the beneficiaries will move back.
Excited resident Luzuko Fose told Vukani: “The place was too congested before. If we would have fire, help would not come easily because there were no streets. Ambulances could not come in to help the sick. This is now a better place for us all with streets and more open spaces even for children to play,” he said.
Beneficiaries will also have access to individual water and sanitation services. The City has also installed formal stormwater infrastructure, paved access roads and pathways to enhance safety and access for basic and emergency services.
After visiting the area last week, Mayo Dan Plato said: “This is in line with the City’s commitment of bringing greater formality to informal settlements where it is possible to do so; to mainstream basic services provision and to improve the lives of our most vulnerable residents amid rapid urbanisation and growing informality.
“These upgrade projects are key interventions in addressing the need for affordable accommodation and enhancing the safety of our residents who live in informal conditions,” he said.
However, Mr Plato said, unlawful occupation was a huge risk for the project, as with others across the metro. Therefore, the City would continue to act to protect its projects and stand up for beneficiaries, he added.
“This project also enables economic opportunity and an economic stimulus in the area due to local labour deployment and other services, where possible.
“We are not going to address the extreme housing need in Cape Town and in the rest of South Africa for that matter by focusing only on one type of housing delivery, the formal subsidy housing model or Breaking New Ground programme. We need to look at addressing the growing informality and budgets and plans should, and will, increasingly align to site and service models to ensure faster and larger scale delivery,” he said.
Mayco member for human settlements, Malusi Booi added that urbanisation was not a municipal challenge alone, but one faced by all tiers of government, the private sector and civic organisations. He said they all must work together and ensure that they were “ahead of the curve with our plans to address rapid urbanisation”.