Metro keeping mum on mega housing project

This image, taken from the document found online, shows the site of the proposed housing development.

Over the last two weeks the Herald has twice requested comment from the metro about the proposed development, which will be situated in the area currently illegally occupied by squatters, and surrounds.

The metro’s response has not been forthcoming.

One of the questions posed to the metro was the accuracy of a document titled ‘Memorandum in support of proposed residential township Brakpan Extension 13′.

This 40-page document was yielded during a quick Internet search and contains photographs, maps and more.

Featuring the Ekurhuleni logo on the front page, it is dated June 2015 and, while its legitimacy has not been confirmed, it outlines the Ekurhuleni Department of Human Settlements’ intention to develop a ‘major integrated residential township on the land’.

According to the document, the Brakpan Old Location Precinct Plan was adopted by the department in 2014 and contains proposals for the development of an integrated residential township with approximately 5 700 housing units.

Under the ‘Background Information’ section, the introduction reads: “The site consists in part of the land on which the original ‘Brakpan Old Location’ was situated before the forced removal of its residents in the 1960s and 70s to what is now known as Tsakane.

“These forced removals and the demise of the township was caused by the apartheid government’s perception that it was too close to the white areas of Brakpan.

“The redevelopment of this site as a major residential area aimed at accommodating the very communities (and their descendants) which were forcibly removed from that land during the apartheid era will go some way in addressing past injustices.

“It will also (perhaps more importantly) create living opportunities for people in a very central location within the East Rand, close to all the urban amenities in the Brakpan CBD and the job opportunities in the surrounding areas such as Vulcania, Fulcrum and New Era.”

The document also provides details into an investigation undertaken to explore the availability of bulk infrastructure in the area (water, sewer, stormwater management, electricity) – much of which will have to upgraded.

Beneficiary communities which will be housed in the project include, among others, Brakpan North, Never Never (Springs) and Weltevreden (Plastic City) informal settlements and the Tsakane waiting list (land claimants).

It is acknowledged in the document that the full extent of the development will take a number of years to realise.

Brandon Pretorius, DA ward councillor for the area believes the illegal occupation of the land is prohibiting the planned housing development.

“The matter has been on the City of Ekurhuleni’s radar for much of the year now with little action being taken to remove the illegal occupants,” he said.

“On March 3, this year, during mayor Mzwandile Masina’s Siyaqhuba service delivery programme, a visit to the Old Location Road site was made with customer service relations manager Aubrey Mokgosi noting the illegal structures on the site and assuring that the illegal occupants would be evicted to ensure that the land stays clear for development to go ahead.

“The situation, however, remains unchanged even though contact was made numerous times with metro officials, including city manager Imogen Mashazi and MMC for Human Settlements Clr Lesiba Mpya, who both gave assurances that the matter will be resolved.

“To compound the situation, it has now come to my attention that one of the illegal occupants is selling land under the pretense that they own the property.

“The matter has since been reported for investigation and further complicates the issue.

“The latest concern is that raising this matter with Mashazi again, she falsely responded that the land was cleared and the matter was resolved.

“This is clearly not the case and it is concerning how ill-informed the city manager’s office is regarding the issue.

“Although the DA recognises the importance and desperate need for housing and shelter for the people of Ekurhuleni, we urge that legal and proper processes be followed by the metro when dealing with this issue and it be treated with the urgency it deserves.”

 

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