Transport, water dominate headlines

Commuters battle for space on a loaded Metrorail train.

As the year draws to an end,Vukani Live Editor, Thulani Magazi, looks at what made the headlines in 2017.

However, there are some that stand out among the rest.

At the top of the list would certainly be the ongoing drought in the province.

The Western Cape is experiencing the worst drought in decades.

There are fears that the situation could be even more dire in the new year.

The relief efforts have undoubtedly dominated the news and will continue to be top of mind for months or possibly even years to come, until such time that the Mother City gets some desperately-needed rain.

Hopefully, when that happens, we would all have learnt the lesson that water is precious and we should use it sparingly.

Hopefully, the City of Cape Town will continue to enforce some of the measures that have been put in place to curb water wastage.

Most importantly, the City will have to find a way to deal with those who waste water in the informal settlements where there are standpipes.

While the City has come down hard on citizens by installing water metres at homes, it has failed dismally to deal with water wasting in the informal settlements.

To date, those people continue to waste this scarce resource, despite the severity of the problem.

Taking you back to what set our year in motion, we captured the excitement and despair of the matric class of 2016, and the challenges of enrolling at institutions of higher learning.

This is a time when both parents and their children have to make tough decisions, and 2018 will certainly be no different.

As parents spend their money on end-of-year festivities, it is important to keep this fact in mind: January is coming with all its financial difficulties.

Young children who are demanding Christmas presents and other goodies will, in just two weeks from now, be pupils needing uniforms, stationery and school fees to be paid. This year we also reported on the destruction and vandalism of infrastructure, particularly at schools. This affects our children’s education and ultimately, their future. John Pama Primary School in Nyanga was one of many schools which were vandalised this year and this will continue to happen until society takes a stand against it.

Service delivery or rather, a lack of it, and the resultant protests in informal settlements also continued to dominate the news.

Barcelona informal settlement, in Gugulethu, is always a ticking time-bomb, particularly around winter. Some of the challenges include sanitation and lighting. In 2017 the problem spread to areas such as Chris Hani, in Site C and Marikana, in Philippi.

This year we also wrote about some inefficiencies in the City of Cape Town’s billing system with Gugulethu pensioner, Nancy Magobolo, being told that she owed more than R1 million for water.

There were many other instances where the City had been accused of failing to meet its obligations to society.

Fires in informal settlements have been another challenge and until those staying in these densely populated areas begin to behave more responsibly, the sometimes fatal blazes will continue to haunt them in 2018.

Informal settlements are congested and if residents are negligent, they put the lives of many others at risk.

Leaving food to cook unattended or using a stove while under the influence of alcohol could have devastating results.

It is best to switch off all appliances when deciding to take a walk or you must get someone to keep an eye on things.

Often there is little that can be done to extinguish these fires once they start as the homes are built very close together.

Housing is another thorny issue that fills our pages and it will certainly continue to do so for as long as no measures are taken to curb the influx of people into urban areas.

There also needs to be more opportunities created in the rural areas of the Eastern Cape.

The occupation of land near Town Two by backyarders and the subsequent killing of Mthunzi Zuma, known as Rasta, also headlined 2017.

The tragic killing of 11 people in Marikana informal settlement, in Philippi, was another low point. It put our law enforcement agencies in the spotlight as they battled to bring calm to the area.

In August we reported on the tragic death of three boys, Athule Makonzi, 15, Khanyisa Mtamzeli, 17, and Mzingisi Gobecimele, 17, from Joe Slovo informal settlement in Langa, after they had apparently eaten some vetkoek.

This was certainly a low point for the year, and one prays that it never happens again.

Vetkoeks are so popular in the townships and are available at almost every corner. They are also a source of income for many aspiring business people. It is important for owners to ensure their businesses adhere to high quality standards to eliminate any possibility of foreign objects finding themselves into this loved staple.

The abuse of women and children continues to plague society.

The tragic death of Alizwa Makhanda, allegedly shot by a Somali shopkeeper, in Site C, and the brutal murder of Unathi Madotyeni of Langa, were some of the incidents that featured prominently in 2017.

Vukani also covered the closure of Ithemba Community Home, the only old age home in Khayelitsha, after it failed to meet safety requirements, leaving pensioners with an uncertain future.

And while there were concerted efforts to encourage Capetonians to use public transport, 2017 was a tough year for commuters, with Golden Arrow bus drivers going on strike in April and a series of other disruptions including the taxi drivers and the struggling rail service.

In fact, train commuters have been the hardest hit. The service has deteriorated to its worst in many years, and unless something drastic is done to curb lawlessness and the destruction of rail infrastructure, train travel around Cape Town is heading for a disaster.

But 2017 was not all doom and gloom and we also brought you many stories of inspiration. There were artists, entrepreneurs and many people who are working hard to improve the lives of others.

The Vukani team wishes all our readers a safe holiday and prosperous 2018. We’ll be back on Thursday January 11.