It will take eThekwini over 90 years to fix informal settlements, says metro

Meanwhile thousands of families in Foreman Road informal settlement live without adequate services

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Foreman Road informal settlement is densely populated, with over 3,000 shacks. Residents complain that they mostly have to rely illegal electricity connections and they don’t have adequate sanitation. Photos: Manqulo Nyakombi

  • Families at Foreman Road informal settlement in Durban have been asking the City to electrify their shacks and improve sanitation.
  • The settlement is densely populated with about 3,000 shacks.
  • Many of the shacks rely on illegal electrical connections, there’s always overflowing sewage and the toilets are always blocked or broken.

It will take the eThekwini Municipality almost a century to deal with the backlog of problems at informal settlements across the metro. This is according to the head of communications at the municipality, Lindiwe Khuzwayo.

“It would take the municipality more than 90 years to address the current informal settlement ‘backlog’, given the current fiscal allocations and other constraints such as limited well located and developed land, lack of bulk service capacity, which constrain the rate of formal housing delivery,” she said.

Families at Foreman Road informal settlement in Durban have been asking the City to electrify their shacks and improve sanitation.

GroundUp recently visited the community which is densely populated with about 3,000 shacks. Some shacks are built on wetlands, so the ground is always damp. Throughout the area, the foul smell of faeces and sewage water fills the air, particularly on humid days.

Residents say they protested in 2018 to demand electricity, among other services. They said the municipality sent a contractor to install electricity, but only a few shacks received formal electricity. Most shacks at Foreman Road still rely on illegal connections.

Mqapheli Bonono, deputy chairman of housing movement Abahlali BaseMjondolo, said his was one of the households that did not receive electricity in 2018. He believed his home was excluded because of his activist role in the community.

He said the City only installed electricity at his shack after GroundUp reported on his struggles. Bonono said Abahlali has been trying to get answers from the City about why some shacks had not been electrified, but to no avail.

“There was no transparency on the tender details or how many shacks were meant to benefit. What happened is that electricity was installed in one shack, then they skipped the next two and so on,” he said.

Ntombikayise Lukwana said her shack had been skipped when the electricity installation was done. “Till today we don’t know why certain houses didn’t receive electricity. I’m one of the people who started this informal settlement but electricity was not installed in my shack,” she said.

Another major issue raised by several people was poor sanitation.

Residents have dug several rows of trenches between shacks for overflowing sewage water.

Some residents say they relieve themselves in buckets because the communal toilets are usually blocked, and some are broken. Several rows of trenches have been dug between shacks. We were told that residents had done this so that overflowing sewage water could drain through the settlement.

Bonono believes the municipality has forgotten about the residents of Foreman Road. “Not a single person from this informal settlement has been moved to RDP houses. When there’s a disaster, the City moves us to transit camps to stay there for years,” he said.

Resident Bathande Gantsa said he has been living there since 2012 and the overflowing sewage water has always been a problem. “As you can see it goes straight under the shacks. Inside my shack, the floor is wet. Day and night we smell this,” he said.

The City’s Khuzwayo blamed the lack of adequate services on insufficient available funds and the rising number of land occupations. She said Foreman Road was one of 595 informal settlements in the metro.

“Any interventions at Foreman Road will be dependent on the availability of funding, alternative land and active participation of the community.

“Unfortunately, the continued invasion at Foreman Road has made it extremely difficult to plan and budget for any long term or permanent solutions,” she said. Khuzwayo said the municipality had delivered more than 200,000 RDP houses since 1994.

On the electrification project, Khuzwayo said the mushrooming of shacks and ongoing land occupations “continues to compound their woes”.

TOPICS:  Housing

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