Imizamo Yethu residents are fed up with the state of their roads and stormwater systems, and tempers are starting to flare.
Last week, a group of angry locals took to the streets to show their upset. They burnt tyres, sending black clouds into the sky while blocking off the busy circle outside Hout Bay police station.
Community leader Kenny Tokwe said residents were becoming increasingly frustrated with the conditions and wanted to see action from the City.
“People are staging their frustrations and we are calling on the City to address these issues properly, because they have been coming on for a while now,” he said.
Mr Tokwe said they were looking forward to an upcoming meeting with council to propose having the upgrades to IY roads added to the next ward allocation budget.
“We want the City to work with us and for us to know what the ward allocation budget will be and the awareness program for the community to be part of when cleaning the environment,” Mr Tokwe said.
Samkelo Krweqe from the South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO) said Imizamo Yethu residents had been reporting the state of the roads and hosted a string of meetings with the City of Cape Town previously, but the situation “worsens”.
“The ones who are working in roads department in Hout Bay have not been able to assist with the problem. So we decided to go see them as they refused to come meet with us,” he said.
Mr Krweqe said after meeting with police last week, the group were still not convinced that their concerns would be addressed.
“We are not happy with what they were saying and we told them we are giving them seven days to respond to our demands,” he explained, confirming that a meeting was scheduled to take place later this month.
In 2017, City officials undertook a walkabout of Imizamo Yethu to inspect the roads project falling under its transport and urban development authority, which was scheduled to be completed at the end of May.
A total of R40 million had been set aside for the project, which included the redesign, reconstruction and upgrade of up to 31 roads in Imizamo Yethu, Ocean View and Kommetjie, (“Progress on IY road upgrade”, Sentinel News, April 13, 2017).
Locals claim that there has been no improvement apart from certain sections of the road having been repaired.
“They bring lose sand to patch up tar roads and when the rain comes, they sweep the sand into and block the drains,” Mr Krweqe said.
Another resident said the matter kept being “swept under the carpet” and a “quick repair job” was done.
Joseph Mkalipi said the roads in IY had required urgent attention for a while already.
“This is not a new matter being raised. Our roads have become worse and every time you think somebody is coming to fix the problem, but they end up doing more damage,” he said.
“It’s by time people show their frustrations and I cannot blame anybody, because they have been reporting this problem plenty of times over the years,” Mr Mkalipi added.
Hout Bay police station commander, Lieutenant Colonel Jerome Syster, said a group of locals had visited the City of Cape Town depot demanding to see an improvement to the roads in Imizamo Yethuy.
“They were complaining about the road surface in Imizamo Yethu. They wanted to speak to the man in charge of the roads department out in Hout Bay area. According to them (residents) the man did not want to come out to speak to them and they then decided to burn tyres and block the roads,” Lieutenant Colonel Syster said.
He confirmed that there had been no reports of stone throwing or damage to private property.
“At this stage, it is just the roads that is damaged by the burning tyres. The fires was put out by the fire department and roads opened again for public to use,“ Lieutenant Colonel Syster said.
He added that a case of public violence had been opened at the station.
“At this stage, the names of the people behind this is unknown because they didn’t want to give any names, but Law Enforcement, Traffic Services as well as Metro Police were at the scene,” he said.
Newly appointed new Mayco member for transport and Hout Bay ward councillor, Roberto Quintas, said he aware of the concerns from the community.
“We have been trying our best to inform residents and the leaders about the reasons for the delays with road and stormwater maintenance,” Mr Quintas said.
The City’s roads depots lost 105 working days due to closures related to the Covid-19 pandemic since March 2020 to August, 31, this year, Mr Quintas said.
“It does not include the time when the National Government placed the country under Alert Level 5 when no road maintenance was allowed. The local roads depot in Fish Hoek who is responsible for IY has been affected as well,” he said.
Also adding to the delays was that each time an employee tested positive for Covid-19, the City was forced to close a depot for a minimum of seven days, and staff needed to isolate.
“We have to do this in the interest of the health and safety of officials who are working hard and long hours to keep our roads and stormwater infrastructure functioning,” Mr Quintas said.
The pandemic also caused major delays with the delivery of asphalt, crucially needed to do pothole repairs. Adverse weather conditions also delayed repairs, as dry surfaces are needed to carry out repairs.
Mr Quintas explained that the City’s biggest challenges in IY remains grey water, which should be going down the stormwater mains, but instead, ends up on roads as stormwater inlets and systems become blocked.
“These get blocked because of littering and illegal dumping in the area. This is having a huge impact on our service delivery, and the roads in IY. Roads’ longevity is impacted by water, and you will notice that in areas where water collects on the roads the infrastructure deteriorates much quicker than anywhere else,” he said.
However, Mr Quintas said he and City officials would be meeting with the community and IY leadership next week to pave the way towards some relief.
“I want to stress that our local roads depot will be doing repairs and the residents will be seeing them out and about within the next 10 days or so, but the roads will only stay intact if the residents from IY look after this asset, and report those who dump illegally in the stormwater system,“ he said.
Mr Quintas said an “exciting” project would be rolled out in IY “within days”, but could not share further details.
“I cannot share more information or the details with you at this stage because we first need to present this to the leadership. It is good news and will bring much relief in IY and I am excited to share this with the leadership,” he said.