Relocated railway line occupiers protest for water, electricity, and toilets

The families were moved in December to land owned by PRASA but the City of Cape Town is tasked with giving them basic services

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Shack dwellers brought traffic near the R300 freeway to a standstill on Friday morning. They were moved by PRASA from the railway reserve they had occupied in Philippi, to open land at Stock Road station in December, in order for the Metrorail Central Line to be fully restored. Photos: Sandiso Phaliso

Shack dwellers who were recently relocated to from the railway reserve they had occupied in Philippi and Nyanga, Cape Town, to land alongside Stock Road station, brought traffic to a standstill on Friday morning.

Residents of the new settlement at Stock Road station they’ve named Loyiso Nkohla informal settlement, burnt tyres and put large rocks on the corner of Stock Road and the R300 freeway. They are demanding the City of Cape Town install electricity, supply them with water, refuse collection bags, and more toilets.

Western Cape police spokesperson Wesley Twigg told GroundUp that Public Order Police and other law enforcement agencies responded to the service delivery protest at the R300. He said the crowd dispersed when SAPS arrived and “no police action was taken”.

Twigg said SAPS and law enforcement agencies will remain in the area to monitor the situation.

The protesting residents say they have had no adequate water supply since their relocation to the site next to the Stock Road train station in December. They claim water trucks were last there two weeks ago, and rubbish has not been collected at all.

Community leader Thembelani Ntelezi told GroundUp that protesters also needed the City to hire more janitors to clean their toilets. “Rubbish is piling up because we don’t have dedicated people to clean this area. The water tanker that the City had promised comes twice a week but has not been here in two weeks.

Protesters walking back into the settlement on Stock Road on Friday morning.

“We have to rely on the neighbouring communities for water. We feel we have been dumped here. We want to know from the City when we are going to have our houses electrified because we can’t continue living in the dark anymore,” said Ntelezi.

Resident Masonwabe Funda, a mother to three children, said she uses candles and a paraffin stove to cook because she cannot afford to connect electricity illegally from nearby Heinz Park or Acacia Park.

Funda said that the residents have vowed to protest until their demands are met.

“The only language that this government hears is when we take to the streets and burn tyres. Children are going to school without bathing because there is no water,” she said.

The City of Cape Town said: “Numerous newly established communities are demanding services but currently the City is unable to cater for these unplanned settlements as existing recognised informal settlements are prioritised on the basis of available resources, which are not limitless. Planned and budgeted projects are prioritised.

“The City takes the grievances of residents seriously. We have an open-door policy and urge residents to approach us in good faith, about their concerns.”

Zahid Badroodien, Mayoral Committee Member for Water and Sanitation, said: “The families relocated to PRASA-owned land have water brought into the community twice a week by water tankers. Additionally, the City has already initiated the application process for permission to install 30-40 standpipes. Whilst this process is underway the City is investigating the possibility of introducing an additional day for water tankers.

“There are 150 City-supplied toilets on the PRASA-owned relocation site. The toilets are serviced four times per week. Despite the toilets being on PRASA-owned land, the City provides and pays for the implementation and maintenance of these toilets,” he said.

Update on 2024-02-23 14:53

This article was updated 23 February and again on 27 February to include comment from the City of Cape Town.

TOPICS:  Housing Prasa / Metrorail

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