New bylaw to tackle informal settlements

In a bid to combat the mushrooming of illegal shacks around Nelson Mandela Bay, the municipality is in the process of developing a bylaw to regulate the establishment of informal settlements.

The proposed Informal Settlement Management bylaw will deal with illegal invasions, abandoned shacks, illegal church structures and partially built shacks.

The proposal comes shortly after the DA-led coalition was criticised by opposition parties for the way it handled land invasions in Wells Estate and Uitenhage.

About 60 families from Wells Estate were displaced after their shacks were demolished last month following a court order in favour of the municipality.

In a report tabled at yesterday’s mayoral committee meeting, the human settlements department wrote: “The municipality has the legal obligation to provide land for the development of residential areas to accommodate residents in an orderly manner within available resources.

“It is, nevertheless, faced with the proliferation of informal settlements.

“Most of these informal settlements have developed as a result of unlawful invasions and occupation of both private and state-owned land in an unplanned manner and in conflict with planning strategies and priorities, which makes delivery of municipal services difficult.”

Human settlements political head Nqaba Bhanga asked the mayoral committee to note the draft bylaw and, once approved by the council, that it be opened up to the public for comment.

Some of the aspects to be included in the bylaw would be procedures to be taken if an informal settlement is found to be authorised.

It will also deal with the problem of illegal bush-clearing with the intention to invade land or build shacks, and also the duty of ward councillors and ward committee members to report incidents of land invasion.

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