PRASA settlement to double in size in spite of problems with water and sanitation

Nearly 500 more families to be moved in by the end of the month

By Sandiso Phaliso

10 January 2024

The settlement near Stock Road station is to double in size though there are already problems with water and sanitation. Photo: Sandiso Phaliso

The number of families living on land owned by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) near Stock Road train station in Philippi East, Cape Town is to double by the end of January. But the 400 families already living there complain of a shortage of toilets and water.

A total of 891 households are to be moved to the site.

This is part of Operation Bhekela, a joint operation between PRASA, City of Cape Town, the Housing Development Agency, and national and provincial departments of transport, human settlements, and public works, to clear more than 5,000 shacks built along Cape Town’s Central railway line at Langa, Nyanga, and Philippi.

People settled on the railway line and rail reserve during the Covid lockdown in 2020, when many could no longer afford to pay rent as backyarders.

Zahid Badroodien, City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee member for water and sanitation, said water is provided by tanker to the Stock Road station site twice a week. He said the tanker had come on 3 January, 9 January and would come again on 11 January. But residents say the tanker has not been seen since 27 December.

They say they have to fetch water for drinking, cooking and washing from the neighbouring suburbs of Acacia and Heinz Park or go further away to informal settlements to draw water from communal taps.

“Water is a basic necessity and we just can’t live without it,” said resident Lithimla Njokweni.

There are 40 toilets on the site but half of them have not been opened. The rest are chemical toilets which, residents say, are not cleaned often enough.

“Toilets are getting full and are now smelly. Rubbish is starting to pile up because people don’t have a designated place to throw their dirt,” said Njokweni.

When GroundUp visited the area on Monday, the alleys smelt of urine.

Badroodien said the chemical toilets were serviced “regularly” and had been serviced between 1 January and 7 January.

PRASA spokesperson Andiswa Makanda told GroundUp that by the end of January 891 families would have been relocated to the temporary site.

With regard to the permanent relocation of the families to formal houses, Makanda said: “The permanent relocation is pending statutory processes such as the outcome of the rezoning application that has been submitted to the City of Cape Town.”