Cape Town - Residents of the Imizamo Yethu (IY) informal settlement in Hout Bay will now have an easier time reaching their destinations, thanks to the construction of 14 new roads by the City of Cape Town.
The roads will also play a vital role in enabling access routes for emergency vehicles to travel on - in order to respond faster to incidents in times of crisis.
The project, by the City’s Transport and Urban Development Authority, commenced in June 2016 and comes at a cost of R38 million.
This includes the realignment and construction of the roads, the installation of stormwater infrastructure, new sidewalks and walkways where the road reserves were wide enough, and the installation of critical street lights.
The streets that were reconstructed include A Boesak; J Naidoo, A Mlangeni; Bambata; C Hani; Hlintsa; M Goniwe; M Kotane; M Mabinda; N Aggett; S Biko, Molefe, H Joseph, and B February.
According to mayco member for transport and urban development, Brett Herron, roads are an essential component of urban living.
"Roads make it easier and safer for people to move around, be it in vehicles or on foot. Roads also create a sense of place and dignity, meaning it provides structure and something as simple as a street address to those who reside along them," Herron said.
"I have always regarded the roads project in IY as one of the most important on our to-do-list, because now that these roads are finally completed, it will fundamentally change how the residents live and move around in this section of IY."
He added that sidewalks for pedestrians were added where the road reserves were wide enough, to create a safe space for children and residents to walk on. The City also installed street lights which will assist residents in feeling safer when they have to walk to their destinations after dark.
Another important part of the road infrastructure build was the installation of stormwater infrastructure.
"Without stormwater infrastructure, roads turn into rivers during downpours, homes are flooded, and neighbourhoods are cut off from emergency assistance. Without stormwater infrastructure, roads will eventually fail completely," Herron said.
He added that the 14 new roads and the other services that form part of this project will go a long way in improving the living conditions of those who reside in IY.
However, while the final project has been a success, it wasn't without its challenges.
"One of the complexities of the project was the realignment of some of the roads and walkways to accommodate informal structures. We had to come up with innovative redesigns to accommodate the informal conditions in IY, as well as the steep typography of this area.
"Everything we did was in consultation with the project steering committee and local residents. In the end about 100 structures were moved slightly to make way for the roads and walkways, and in some instances we had to make do with narrower walkways and roads to accommodate the structures," said Herron.
Fifty local residents from IY were also employed by contractors to work on the project, with the value of these temporary employment opportunities amounting to R1,2m.
Street names will be installed in September, while the contractor is still working on some minor snags which will be completed by then.