Residents from the Siyahlala Informal Settlements walking to their homes. Picture Sisonke Mlamla
Residents from the Siyahlala Informal Settlements walking to their homes. Picture Sisonke Mlamla

Prasa threatens informal settlement residents with eviction orders

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Feb 3, 2021

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Cape Town - The Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) has threatened to seek an eviction order from the courts if the people who are illegally occupying its premises at Philippi and Langa railway tracks don’t vacate the premises within 10 days of notice.

Since Monday, Prasa has been visiting the Siyahlala informal settlement on the railway tracks in Langa issuing letters of notice, and urging them to vacate its premises, saying failure to vacate within the provided timeline would result in further delays in Prasa repairing the railway infrastructure.

Prasa board chairperson Leonard Ramatlakane said the aim of the visit was to establish the basis upon which the rail tracks were occupied.

Ramatlakane led the Prasa delegation to engage the community to vacate rail tracks on the Central Line.

"Prasa wishes to resume the rail services on the Central Line in Cape Town and in Pretoria (Mabopane Line) and urges the community to vacate the rail tracks voluntarily and peacefully," said Ramatlakane.

However, he said during his engagement with the occupiers, he was informed by them that they had been sold the sites in Prasa’s operational tunnel for approximately R 9 000. They declined to divulge from whom.

Siyahlala informal settlement committee secretary, Nomzamo Gatuya, said Prasa should give them land with service delivery including water, electricity and toilets to build their homes.

Gatuya said the land should not be far from Langa, because some of them were working close to the area, and their children were attending schools in Langa.

A resident, Mlondolozi Magqabi, said Prasa was not allowed to tell us to vacate within 10 days. "That is a very short period of time. We have been living here for years."

Residents Nomzamo Gatuya and Mlondolozi Mangqabi from the Siyahlala Informal Settlement are angry over Prasa’s eviction letters. Pictures Sisonke Mlamla

Ramatlakane said Prasa was ready to run train services from Cape Town to Langa and has appointed a team of consultants that would prepare designs and assist Prasa to manage the construction of walls along the Prasa servitude.

He said to this end tenders have already been advertised to reinstate the power supply system so that trains are able to operate safely on the line.

"These infrastructure works cannot start in the areas where there are illegal land invasions and illegal settlements," he said.

He said Prasa led its delegation to meet the human settlements MEC and the City’s executive mayor to help find/identify a suitable site to relocate the illegal occupants for their own safety and to enable Prasa to start the much-needed restoration of infrastructure.

The City said: "Discussions between stakeholders on the way forward are ongoing."

Ramatlakane said Prasa would temporarily use diesel locomotives while the process of repairing the infrastructure was underway.

Last week, Transport and Public Works MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela, said the Western Cape government has been working closely with Prasa to assist in the restoration of the collapsed rail service in the City of Cape Town and the broader province.

He made it clear that his department has made R10 million available and entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Prasa to co-operate and co-ordinate efforts for the purposes of improving passenger rail services, operations and management, infrastructure and assets, information and monitoring, and safety and security on the entire rail network.

“The period of the agreement is from the date of signature, May 28, 2020 to March 31, 2022,” said Madikizela.

Cape Argus

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