27 June 2023
People living in Taiwan informal settlement in Khayelitsha have been protesting over the slow implementation of a housing project meant to benefit them.
On 22 June, nearly 200 people marched to the Western Cape human settlements department carrying placards that read: “Thirty-seven years without dignified formal housing” and “We demand a clear plan and budget for Taiwan”.
“The residents are angry because the project has never got past the first phase,” said Sibusiso Mdlankomo, chairperson of the Taiwan Housing Steering Committee.
Meanwhile people “live in squalor … in flooded shacks in winter and watch their shacks burn in summer year after year”, said Mdlankomo.
In January 2021 a fire destroyed 120 shacks and displaced 300 people in the settlement.
According to a memorandum, accepted at Thursday’s protest by provincial human settlements communication head, Nathan Adriaanse, Taiwan was founded in 1987 and has about 5,400 households today.
Despite being around for decades, the settlement is “still treated as temporary”, with inadequate provision of basic services such as tap water, street lighting, electrification, waste collection, sanitation and policing.
The memorandum states that Taiwan was to be incorporated into the Southern Corridor Housing Development Project in 2018, but five years later nothing has changed.
But spokesperson in the Western Cape government Muneera Allie said the Taiwan informal settlement upgrade project – to make provision for 4,500 housing opportunities – does not form part of the Southern Corridor project.
A three-year planning process for Taiwan ran from August 2018 to 2021, said Allie.
Acquiring development rights approval from the City of Cape Town, which is still pending and usually takes nine to 12 months, was delayed by ten months due to the Covid pandemic because “enumeration of the settlement required physical contact with the residents”, said Allie.
“It is anticipated that construction will commence during early 2024,” she said.
The protesters’ memorandum calls on the MEC to meet the Taiwan residents and produce “a detailed budget” for the housing project and speed up delivery of the houses.
Nonkosazana Manyaba lives with her mother and four sisters in a shack that was flooded last week. She said, “We were told that our housing subsidies were approved and that we would get houses.”
“I’m angry because the department promised us houses, but we haven’t received them,” she said.