Bhisho team to help end standoff between residents and museum
A team of Bhisho officials from the human settlements department will work with Nelson Mandela Bay municipality towards a plan that will see the impasse at Red Location resolved once and for all.
Human settlements minister Nomanindia Mfeketho made the announcement during a visit to the metro on Sunday last week.
Mfeketho, who was in the metro to drum up support for the final voter registration weekend, said the team would meet to ascertain what the problems were and to come up with solutions that would accommodate the residents.
The minister made the comments hours after residents of Red Location township told ANC officials that they would not allow the museum to reopen while they lived in squalor.
Mfeketho said on her visit to the metro she had been inundated with complaints about housing matters.
“We got many complaints, we were told that [Red Location] is mostly a housing issue and we were told that it’s an infrastructure issue, around water, electricity and relocation,” Mfeketho said.
The minister said while she had no real understanding of what had transpired at Red Location, the deployed team would work on solutions going forward.
“What we decided is that both local and provincial government will sit and come up with solutions.”
The museum was closed in October 2013 because of community protests over shoddily built RDP houses around it.
More than 200 homeowners subsequently agreed to have their defective homes demolished and rebuilt to meet the government’s standards for 40m² homes.
Others refused, saying they wanted their homes rectified, but at the unlegislated 48m² size.
This is ultimately the cause of the stalemate which has dragged on for about six years.
Other issues subsequently arose, such as the need for bulk water, sanitation and electricity services for those living in shacks.
But Mfeketho said she believed delays in the human settlements department could be attributed to the change in government in the metro.
“Many of the human settlements projects in Nelson Mandela Bay have been delayed by the changing leadership. There is budget and they have been approved. There is absolutely no need for these projects to not go ahead,” Mfeketho said.
She was referring to the budget that was approved to install services for the shacks in the area.
Meanwhile, Block 40 residents vowed they would not allow the museum to open while they lived in squalor.
A resident who did not identify himself said he did not understand why priority was given to the museum.
“You cannot open the Red Location Museum while we continue living the way we live.
“You can’t put opening this museum at the forefront while we live in these conditions. Something needs to be said about us,” the resident said.
This was in response to a plan to either relocate them or install services such as electricity and water while they await their turn to get an RDP house.
The resident said at a meeting in December they had been advised by a municipal official not to accept the proposal to install services until their demand for houses and the rectification of rundown houses was met.
“If there is money, why can’t you build houses even if it’s 20 houses [or] so? Because the installing of services is going to be a waste of time; the main thing that we want is houses,” the resident said.
“If there is open space and money, then start building houses. When are you going to start building houses?”
Human settlements portfolio head councillor Andile Mfunda said the official who was “derailing” them would be dealt with.
“The decision we have taken is that we are installing services or relocating people. We can’t delay this process any longer, people have been living in squalor for far too long.
“It can’t be this person changes decisions taken by politicians. I am going to deal with this thing once and for all.”
“By Monday we will start installing services, and we are working against deadlines,” Mfunda said...