In-fighting halts construction of bridge

The residents turned away a truck which was bringing additional construction material to the site.

Disagreements and conflicts among residents of different parts of Kuyasa in Khayelitsha, have brought to a complete standstill, the construction of a bridge which will link the two different parts of the community, which fall into wards 97 and 99.

The area where the bridge is supposed to be built used to be a dumping site and for years people had been forced to take the long way round to get to the other side.

When the City approved the construction of the bridge, the residents were excited but now, they say, they have been forced to prevent construction from commencing because due process “has not been followed”.

When Vukani visited the site just before 8am last Wednesday, residents were turning away a truck carrying construction materials.

Resident Bonginkosi Mnani, said for the project to run smoothly, three people from the area should have been elected to be part of a steering committee.

He said the election of such people would be done in the presence of the ward councillors and their names would be then sent to the sub-council chair for further screening.

Furthermore, he said, these people would then be interviewed and one person from each ward would be elected as community liaison officers.

However, he said, they recently discovered that certain individuals had elected their own people behind closed doors and sent their names to the sub-council chair who had accepted the recommendations even though other names had been previously submitted.

This, he said, is what had resulted in the construction being halted even though it was important to the residents of Kuyasa that the bridge be built.

“These individuals elected their own people and we do not know their motivation. We have seen people who derail community projects in the past and drive it for their own benefits and we do not want that with this one. And the ward councillors do not know where the second (set of) names where they come from.

“We are not fighting anyone here, but we just want things to be done accordingly,” he said.

Mayoral committee member for transport, Felicity Purchase, said the City was aware of the matter and was trying to resolve it.

Ms Purchase said the aim was to connect the two communities from different parts of Kuyasa in Khayelitsha. “Currently there is no formal access between the communities of Kuyasa West and Kuyasa East, only existing tracks across an open space,” she explained.

“Also, the two communities from wards 97 and 99 in Kuyasa in Khayelitsha are separated by a stormwater channel, which makes it very difficult and dangerous for residents to get to the other side.” She said the project was expected to be completed by December 8 if all went according to plan,

with just under R4 million having been set aside for the project.

Another resident, Simon Memani said he had witnessed in the past how community projects had been ruined by those wanting to benefit from them.

But, he said, this time the community had decided to step up and make sure that every necessary step was followed. He added that they appreciated the City’s efforts to build the bridge which would make it easier for children to get to school on the other side of the area.

Ward 99 councillor Bongile Ngcani confirmed that there was a conflict about the construction of the bridge and explained that in each of the wards there were people who considered themselves community leaders but their leadership was contested.

He said the ward councillors had called a public meeting to resolve the matter but in-fighting among the residents forced them to shut down the meeting.

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