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Joe Slovo fire victims rebuilt structures without waiting for City’s assistance, says MEC

Residents of Joe Slovo Informal Settlement in Langa are rebuilding their shacks as they are trying to get things back to normal. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Residents of Joe Slovo Informal Settlement in Langa are rebuilding their shacks as they are trying to get things back to normal. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 17, 2022

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Cape Town - A large part of Joe Slovo informal settlement’s structures have been rebuilt by residents who did not bother to wait for the authorities.

The rebuilding work commenced almost immediately after the April 16 fire, despite calls from national, provincial and municipal officials to residents to partner with City authorities to rebuild their structures.

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Infrastructure MEC Tertuis Simmers told EFF MPL Nosipho Makamba-Botya that his department had realised the rebuilding had already begun during a site visit three days after the disaster.

He said the post-fire response should have been to let the City build access routes and roads, to ensure sufficient space between houses, to first and foremost prevent similar tragedies and limit the impact of such events in the future.

“It was quite evident that the affected community was not going to wait for formal services or for structures to be built, as the rebuilding of the structures had already commenced, with about 70% of the affected area already being reoccupied,” Simmers said.

Makamba-Botya had asked what the department was doing to assist the more than 1 200 residents of the informal settlement in Langa whose 300 shacks burnt down as a result of the fire.

She also wanted to know whether the department had plans in place to speed up the provision of housing and to de-densify the most congested informal settlements in the province speedily.

With regards to the de-densification Simmers said that 33 projects across the province were earmarked for funding by the department in the 2022/23 informal settlement partnership grant business plan, with a spend of more than R484.6 billion.

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“These projects are all at different stages of preparation, planning or implementation. Implementation plans include the installation or upgrading of services to include access to clean water, sanitation and electricity.”

He said the department had developed visual communication materials to support these communities and other stakeholders with informal settlement upgrading initiatives.

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