THERE are 547 informal settlements in the eThekwini metro district, with an estimated 256559 shacks, and it will take about 60 years before all the settlements are eradicated.
Durban - THERE are 547 informal settlements in the eThekwini metro district, with an estimated 256 559 shacks, and it will take about 60 years before all the settlements are eradicated.

This emerged at the two-day eThekwini Informal Settlements Upgrading Summit which opened yesterday.

eThekwini Metro and the provincial department of human settlements are nowhere near eradicating informal settlements and Abahlali baseMjondolo said it would take about 60 years to resolve the issue.

The summit, which seeks to address challenges in the “exponential growth” and proliferation of informal settlements within eThekwini Metro, was organised by the provincial human settlements department and the municipality.

It sought to obtain input from different stakeholders on practical measures to upgrade and manage informal settlements within the metropolitan area.

According to the concept document, in addition to the 547 informal settlements, eThekwini also has 10140 temporary units at 61 transit camps, where families were relocated to pave the way for the installation of infrastructure and services for the 2010 World Cup.

“To date, 12 transit camps comprising 637 temporary units have been eradicated, with 973 households being relocated to ‘Greenfields’ projects such as Cornubia Integrated Residential Development Project,” reads the document.

However, 49 transit camps remain and it is estimated that it will take eThekwini another 10 years to relocate all households to Greenfields projects.

The document lists, among other things, insufficient funding for bulk infrastructure (water/sanitation/electricity); dense informal settlements; protracted processes to procure privately owned land to develop; the invasion/illegal occupation of land in undevelopable areas; and budget shortfalls as some of the challenges hindering the upgrading of informal settlements.

Human Settlements spokesperson Mbulelo Baloyi said the department was seeking lasting solutions that would benefit both informal settlement dwellers and people living in nearby formal structures.

“Eighty percent of shack-dwellers are tenants to ‘shack lords’ and this was proven by a study done by the Morris Web Institute based at UKZN. The challenge is that people who find shacks next to their properties expect the government to take action or have instant solutions to that.

“Unfortunately there are court processes to be followed to deal with land invaders,” Baloyi said.

He said the new strategy sought to achieve a planned informal settlement approach that entailed the development of legal instruments to regularise informal settlements (for example, the use of special zones in the municipal land use management schemes) and recognition of rights of residence.

Tony Clothier, chairperson of the Far Outer West Ratepayers Association (areas from Hillcrest and Drummond to Inchanga), said ratepayers should brace themselves as the shack issue was here to stay.

“They (the government) are not going to solve the problem. They will never eradicate informal settlements because of too much politicking and electioneering. This hinders the process. We have had some incidents of attempts to invade pockets of land in our area, but we stand together as a community,” Clothier said.

Abahlali Basemjondolo welcomed the summit and hoped that resolutions taken on the last day would be implemented.

Daily News