The construction of a new formal township in Pretoria intended to house people from the nearby Plastic and Cemetery View informal settlements has temporarily halted after residents voiced their objections.
The site cannot be developed because the township establishment application and a general plan have not yet been approved due to the objections, according to the City of Tshwane.
Tshwane spokesperson Selby Bokaba would not elaborate on the objections, but said the national Covid-19 lockdown slowed the process down even more.
“In the event that objections can be resolved, it is anticipated that township establishment approval will be obtained towards the middle of next year. Thereafter, physical development on the site could possibly commence later in 2021. This will be subject to availability of funding,” Bokaba said.
There is no budget allocated for services in the area as yet.
“Once the application has been approved, a budget should be allocated.”
The planned Pretorius Park extension 40 township will house people from the two informal settlements after the Pretoria high court ordered the metro in 2019 to relocate or regulate these settlements.
Indications are, however, that most Plastic View residents will remain at the settlement because they are foreign nationals and thus do not qualify for government housing aid in terms of the Housing Act, Act 107 of 1997.
Out of the 853 recorded families living at Plastic, only 151 families qualify to move to the planned township.
“The metro will in future in consultation with relevant role players and government departments, particularly the home affairs department, look into amicable means of addressing this issue,” said Bokaba.
The high court also instructed the metro to provide the two informal settlements’ inhabitants with water and sanitation as well as waste collection.
It was also told to maintain the boundary fences around the two informal settlements to prevent more people from squatting there.
“The metro was aware of the increase, not only at this informal settlement, but also in other areas. Our land invasion unit is monitoring further land invasions to avoid further increases,” Bokaba said.
The Community Caring Forum, however, accused the metro of not adhering to many court orders, which led to more people occupying the area.
“I made a suggestion with regards to the fencing and am still awaiting the metro’s response,” said Deirdré van Helsdingen of the forum.
“We need a double fence with a deep trench in between. People at the informal settlements break the fence down to make short cuts.
“If there is such a trench, then the camp cannot expand and the fence will not be broken.”
Van Helsdingen said there was poor access control.
“We do not have an accurate figure of how many people are there now because there is no access control. None of the by-laws on how to manage an informal settlement are being complied with.
“This led to the camp expanding from 800 people to about 16 000, which is unacceptable.”
Van Helsdingen said she had on several occasions sent emails to Tshwane reporting some of the issues and offering solutions with no response.
Bokaba said the metro’s human settlement planning unit would check whether they received correspondence from the forum and the reason for the delay.
This article first appeared on Rekord and was republished with permission.