Delays in R33.5 million housing project spark protests in Bitou
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Cape Town - Delays in the implementation of the R33.5 million Qolweni housing project have sparked protests in Bitou (formerly Plettenberg Bay) municipality which have led to the blocking of the N2 in the area since Monday.
The N2 was closed on Monday after a group of Qolweni residents gathered at the nearby Shell garage, burning tyres.
After an urgent meeting between community leaders and Bitou acting mayor Sandiso Gcabayi, the road was reopened briefly that evening but closed again after the protests flared up again.
A meeting between community leaders and Human Settlements MEC Tertuis Simmers, Gcabayi, and senior officials from both the department and the municipality has now been called in an effort to placate rioters.
Gcabayi said: “These actions by the protesters do not only cause malicious damage to properties but also affect the town’s economy and image. Moreover, it threatens the lives of innocent people.
“Worse, some of the people whose lives are threatened have nothing to do with our own misunderstandings as the residents of Plettenberg Bay.”
The controversial project was approved in October 2019 and construction of 169 units was to have begun in January this year.
In December last year Bitou municipality appointed Ukhana Projects CC as the contractor for the development and the site was handed over on January 25.
According to Simmers, after the site handover many delays occurred on site due to relocation of the informal dwellings that had been set up on the site.
“The relocation plan as drawn up and provided by the municipality was incomplete, and in some cases unworkable. Relocations must take place as the land earmarked for the top structures was, and still partially is, occupied by informal dwellings.”
“To further complicate the relocation process, there was a significant pushback and lack of cooperation from some sectors of the community who refused to cooperate and virtually halted the process.”
Simmers has appealed to all parties involved to remain calm and to find a speedy resolution to this matter.
“I call on community members to continue engaging their municipal officials. In due course I will also be visiting the area for various engagements on this matter.”