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‘Relocation promises’

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“People are agreeing to relocate to Roodepan on condition that they will be provided with clean water, sanitation and electricity, but no such services exist.”

WHILE the majority of land invaders in the city are being relocated to Roodepan with the promise of being provided with basic services, residents living in informal settlements in the area have highlighted the lack thereof.

A community leader, Michael Johnson, pointed out that the first inhabitants who had moved to the section of Ivory Park close to the railway line have been waiting for the past seven years for basic services.

“We are not asking for much … only communal taps, high-mast lights and chemical toilets. While we ultimately want prepaid electricity meters to be installed in each household, it is not an urgent priority and can be done at a later stage,” said Johnson.

He indicated that no further developments had taken place since basic services were provided to shacks in phase one and two.

“People are agreeing to relocate to Roodepan on condition that they will be provided with clean water, sanitation and electricity, but no such services exist.”

The community addressed a memorandum to President Cyril Ramaphosa, dated January 10, giving him 21 days in which to respond to their service delivery complaints.

“The community of Roodpean will be continuing to ballot members to vote on further protest action. Government has had more than enough time to address this matter,” said Johnson.

“A memorandum was handed over to Sol Plaatje executive mayor Patrick Mabilo during protest action last year, to address persistent problems.

“Over the years we were promised that infrastructure would be improved, collective bargaining matters resolved and more resources would be availed to better the lives of the community. However, our pleas are falling on deaf ears.”

The memorandum stated that residents in the area were experiencing ongoing challenges, where their human rights were compromised.

“We are frustrated by the failure of local government to attend to pressing matters – despite promises of communal taps, chemical toilets, high-mast lights and electricity. Potholes are not fixed, title deeds are not being issued and sewage is overflowing in our yards and homes.”

Residents added that shacks that should be given to the needy were instead being used by drug dealers, while many shacks were standing empty as the occupants were serving prison sentences.

“Drugs and alcohol are the order of the day at the park in Naborn and it cannot be utilised by our children for recreational purposes. The elderly live in old, rotten houses that are falling apart. The Roodepan flats are falling apart, the graveyard is a disaster, ambulance services either take too long to come or do not come at all. Street lights burn during the day and are switched off at night.”

Residents pointed out that the “neglected” community was experiencing high unemployment levels and poverty.

Community member Luckyboy Riedt said that residents wanted the community liaison officer to be removed as he was not representing the interests of the community.

“No action has been taken since the residents of Lupine Street requested the municipality in August last year to help to cut the overgrown trees in the circle as they are blocking the decoder signals of the satellite dishes. The roots of the trees are also lifting the foundations of our houses while some trees are bending towards the roofs.”

Sol Plaatje executive mayor Patrick Mabilo appealed to community members to refrain from invading land.

“Communities have a tendency to invade land and then stage protests, with the expectation that they will be provided with services.”

Mabilo acknowledged that many informal settlements, including those where land invaders were relocated to, still needed to be serviced.

“Some informal settlements still need to be included on the Integrated Development Plan.”