Ululations and traditional songs rang out across Phola Park informal settlement, in Philippi, last Thursday as Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille opened a new covered stormwater channel.
Residents, who some years back staged protests demanding that the canal be closed, rejoiced and sang in jubilation.
The R6.6 million project replaced the heavily polluted canal with paving, safe pathways and trees to enhance the public space.
Residents say the development will reduce health problems.
An elated Phola Park committee chairman Teenage Mthiyane said gone were the days of waking up to a dirty and smelly neighbourhood. He said what was left now was for the City to provide them with proper houses.
“But that too is imminent.
“We are engaging with the City, and the mayor is talking to us about that
“We are happy she is listening to us, and we have such a good working relationship with her office,” he said.
Ms De Lille said the Phola Park redress project was one of the biggest undertaken by the City.
“The City has responded to the cries of the community who faced ongoing health problems as a result of the bad pollution of the channel.
“Despite ongoing maintenance and cleaning by the City, the open channel continued to be used as a dumping ground, resulting in high levels of bacteria, and was attracting mosquitoes, posing a serious health risk to the community.
“This project aimed to upgrade the stormwater channel to improve the inland water quality and the health and safety of the community,” she said.
Ms De Lille said she was pleased with the improvement the project had brought to the lives of residents.
The City said in addition to the investment from the mayoral redress programme, the City’s utility services directorate had also provided residents with new bins, while R1.3 million had been budgeted to build 163 toilets.
Ms De Lille promised to return for further discussions about how to develop the area.”I would like to thank the community of Phola Park, especially the street committee, for their support of this project and for working hard with the City to ensure that we improve our communities in any way we can.
“We will continue to invest in our previously marginalised communities in order to reverse the wrongs of the past and ensure that these communities receive the proper supporting infrastructure,” she said.