Mfuleni community leaders have commended the City of Cape Town for agreeing to convert a piece of land into a serviced site where basic needs such as water and sanitation and electricity would be provided for the residents.
This comes after the City of Cape Town signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the residents of Garden Cities in Mfuleni to solidify the plans for the Garden Cities Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme (UISP) project.
The land to be developed measures 6.2 hectares and will be completed on a site-and-service basis, with 212 single-occupancy plots and 257 double-occupancy plots.
But this was only the first phase, with other sites also being developed as part of the project and which are all running simultaneously. They said the entire project would comprise 2 000 housing units when completed.
The leaders said the construction company had already started with its groundwork and building was expected to continue for 18 months.
The leaders alleged that in 2006 the project was halted because of disagreements between residents and the City of Cape Town.
However, last year the two parties put aside their differences and started negotiating, which paved the way for construction work to start.
The leaders said people in areas such as Bosasa, extension 2, extension 3, Smarties, Lokishi, Zwelitsha and BM section had been identified as the beneficiaries.
Chairman of Garden City Informal Settlements, Malibongwe Yiba, however, explained that not everyone from these areas would be moved onto the developed land. He said people would move with their shacks onto the land but their intention was to persuade the City and the Department of Human Settlements to build RDP houses for those who qualified for a housing subsidy and met all the requirements.
He emphasised that community leaders did not have the authority to select people to qualify for housing subsidies. That was the work of the City.
He said that they were glad that the doors of development had been opened and that people with the disabilities, senior citizens and child-headed households had been earmarked to be allocated serviced sites before other people.
Mr Yiba said described the initiative as a “bold step” toward bringing the much needed services to the people of Mfuleni but appealed to the residents not bring backyarders into the area.
Anda Ntsodo, mayoral committee member for area east, said now that the agreement had been signed with the community, the planning process for the Garden Cities UISP project was in full swing and “we will continue to update the community throughout the process”.
“In line with our Organisational Development and Transformation Plan, the project will proceed according to the signed MOA, whereby they directly engaged with residents on the issues affecting them,” he said.
“This truly is a great example of how a community has chosen to come alongside the City to make progress possible by willingly assisting us to facilitate the movement of the residents currently staying on the site earmarked for the informal settlement to a temporary site – this being the first crucial step of any project of this nature,” said Mr Ntsodo.
Ward 16 secretary, Myeti September, called on leaders not to be corrupted or to sell the plots. He added that the leaders had vowed to monitor the housing database because people had raised concerns about it. Mr September said after years of waiting, people were now excited and could not wait to move onto the sites.