Relocation is “on track”, Mbalula tells families living along railway line

Metrorail line in Langa to be vacated in November

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Families living on the railway tracks in Langa and Philippi will be relocated to this site in Philippi. Photo: Tariro Washinyira

  • On Tuesday Minister Fikile Mbalula showed families living on railway tracks in Langa and Philippi the parcels of land in Philippi where they will be relocated.

  • The Housing Development Agency is still in negotiations to acquire land in Macassar to relocate families living on railway tracks in Khayelitsha.

  • PRASA’s deadline to relocate the families has been extended till end-November – which is also when Mbalula wants the Central Line to be fully operational.

On Tuesday, community leaders of the families occupying Metrorail’s Central Line in Langa and Philippi were shown the land where they will be relocated by Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula.

The families, who have been living along the railway line for over two years, had refused to move until they were shown the relocation site – two parcels of land in Philippi. They complained that the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) had failed to fulfil various promises to them over the years.

The Central Line, once the city’s busiest line, connecting Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha to the city, has been closed since October 2019. Many deadlines for its return have been missed, and when PRASA suddenly cancelled contracts with its private security, people occupied the tracks along the line.

Mbalula said he would return next week Thursday to sign the agreement.

Earlier this month, PRASA went to the Western Cape High Court to extend the deadline to relocate the Langa families for a third time, from 31 July to end-November.

“We haven’t had confirmation yet,” said PRASA acting regional manager Kaparo Molefi, regarding whether PRASA’s extension application was successful.

Phumlani Mbulawa, a regional manager for the Housing Development Agency (HDA), said it had acquired two parcels of land covering 8.79 hectares which could fit approximately 1,500 structures.

Loyiso Nkohla, representing Langa and Philippi railway occupiers, told the minister that they were told the City of Cape Town said there is no money to develop the land.

But Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements Malusi Booi told the community leaders the Central Line project is the backbone of the economy and not only for the City of Cape Town.

“The minister has told me that trains must run by the end of November and I’m doing my level best to assist. There is money to do this project, and we will make sure this project comes to finishing,” said Booi.

He said R15.7 million would be spent.

During a media briefing, Booi said families living along the railway line in Khayelitsha will be relocated to Macassar where HDA is negotiating with a private owner and the process should be done in a few weeks time.

Loyiso Nkohla, representing Langa and Philippi railway occupiers, told GroundUp that they want all commitments in writing. “What was important was getting a straight answer on what’s happening with time frames. We now at least know funding is there and things are on track … For now we’re happy that both the minister and the City of Cape Town clarified important issues. We are now waiting for the signing ceremony next week,” he said.

TOPICS:  Housing Land Transport

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