Marikana informal settlement in Philippi East. A City official said it had experienced thousands of land invasions over the past six months.
 Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - The City council has cited significant challenges it faced with upgrading informal settlements across the metro.

City officials were briefing the Western Cape standing committee on Human Settlements on Tuesday.

They told the committee the city council had not spent its allocated budget for Imizamo Yethu informal settlement in Hout Bay.

“The city (council) has not spent it because there is a wide range of challenges affecting us, for example, protests in the area,” city council representative Riana Pretorius said.

The city council was supposed to brief the standing committee on the R850 million set aside for the Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme, the R205 million Adjustments Appropriations Emergency Funds received from the Department of Human Settlements and the Expenditure of the urban settlements development grant.

Pretorius said contractors have tried getting into the area, but because of the continued violence, had to abandon the construction.

“We are often engaging with the community and educating them about the redesign of the area.

The city has experienced thousands of land invasions over the past six months, she said.

Tensions in Hout Bay have simmered since a fire destroyed much of the informal settlement in March 2017. Residents have been waiting for a year for their homes to be rebuilt. Very little progress has been made since then. Residents take to the streets demanding basic services like water, electricity and sanitation.

Mayoral committee member for finance Johan van der Merwe said other projects were also brought to a stand still.

“R66 076 453 is due to, inter alia, savings realised on completed projects; projects halted indefinitely due to gang violence, and as such, will be refunded as per the Division of Revenue Act (DORA) provisions,” van der Merwe said.

Members of the provincial parliament (MPPs) grilled the city council about sanitation.

“I want to know what plan do you have in place to ensure that adequate services are given to these poor communities?” ANC MPP Sharon Davids asked.

The city council said it’s facing an issue with its Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) janitors which services ablution blocks in various informal settlements, they face constraints of inoculations.

“The inoculation constraint we face are in certain settlements. We’ve seen people understand so that we can extend the EPWP workers contracts. Inoculations can last up to five years so that every time we renew those workers contracts, other communities are saying no, they don’t want that. They want other people to get a chance and want new EPWP workers, and that creates problems with contracting new EPWP workers,” Pretorius said.

Chairperson of the committee, Matlhodi Maseko, said: “We would like to get a list of those informal settlements which are state owned as well. There is the issue of the land invasion that we are concerned about.

“Does the city council have an innovative plan when you move residents? We want to know, do you have a contingency plan when you use to make sure you use that land to ensure that another land invasion doesn’t happen?” asked Maseko.

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Cape Argus