“Our area is over 120 years old but still we have no electricity, houses, and roads”

PE residents barricade roads because of housing delivery failures

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Photo of protest against background of burning barricade
Kliprand shack dwellers in Port Elizabeth shut down Old Uitenhage Road on Wednesday. Photo: Mkhuseli Sizani

Over 300 shack dwellers from Kliprand as well as residents of RDP houses in Govan Mbeki Township shut down Old Uitenhage Road on Wednesday morning in Port Elizabeth.

The protesters are demanding better housing. The shack dwellers want houses and electricity, while those in RDP houses allege that their homes have been shoddily built.

Police went up and down the road trying to control the defiant residents.

The situation was particularly chaotic in Kliprand where residents blocked the road with burning tyres and storm water pipes. They vowed to protest until they get dates for development of their area.

Shack dweller Doreen Jack said: “Enough is enough. We need service delivery now. Our area is over 120 years old but still we have no electricity, houses, and roads. We live in pig-sty conditions.”

Jack said that six people have died in the past two years because of the lack of electricity. “We have 370 shacks here and illegal connections are scattered all over the place.” Some people died in shack fires caused by illegal connections, she said.

Jack accused the ward councillor, Nomazwi Sonti, of being aloof.

“We don’t see her in our meetings. When we call her for our meetings to come and listen to our grievances she always claims she is busy with council meetings,” Jack said.

Nobuntu Mavata, a resident of Govan Mbeki township said: “Many of our RDP houses were built by shoddy contractors with too much sand and too little cement. There are huge cracks in the walls and the houses eventually collapse.” She too accused Sonti of failing to help them.

Sonti told GroundUp: “We met the residents and managed to calm them. I called all the affected departments heads like human settlements, electricity and energy to come and address their grievances. I could not go there on my own because I would be telling them lies.”

She said some Kliprand shack dwellers were on privately own land and others were on municipal land. “There is a budget to develop the area, but we need to address these issues. By next week Tuesday we plan a public meeting with the heads of these departments. Also we are intending to call the National Human Settlements minister to come and visit Nelson Mandela Bay because there is a huge housing backlog. Govan Mbeki Township houses need to be demolished and rebuilt.”

TOPICS:  Housing

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