Pierre-Marie and Valerie Barnabe, Hout Bay
Dear Madam Mayor, as permanent French residents in Hout Bay since 2003, we think that the problems posed by the township have now become a priority.
It is indeed time to act strongly to avoid the situation becoming irreversible. Today, all the warning lights are red.
* Theoverpopulation of the township has become unbearable;
* The lives of its inhabitants are permanently endangered by the risk of fire, by the deplorable sanitary conditions prevailing there, and by insecurity. By accepting this situation, the City of Cape town and its leaders are responsible for the previous, recent and future human disasters suffered in this area by the population;
* The problems which had been confined to the township now overflow into the whole of Hout Bay and pose serious threats to the future of a valley which forms a kind of cul-de-sac and is mainly served by the narrow road from Constantia Nek, now regularly saturated.
Under these conditions, it is totally irresponsible of the authorities to refrain from changing, or even worse, to continue to promote the development of this township.
It is obvious that if the valley becomes inaccessible, if Hout Bay gets the reputation of a dangerous and unhealthy area, it will no longer be considered a desired tourist destination.
The people of Hout Bay have so far always accepted with happiness the presence of the different communities in the valley where harmony prevailed.
By not stopping this anarchic development, we create the conditions for a social explosion.
The ratepayers in the valley are tired of seeing Hout Bay being the only community to carry the burden of overpopulation and poverty. It is time for the authorities to ask the people of Constantia, Claremont,Tokai and Wynberg, for example, to welcome those who cannot stay in Hout Bay where they cannot be provided with decent living conditions and work.
We know from our experience in France that if what we call “social mixity” is to be practised, it is very dangerous not to spread it out, otherwise ghettos will be created. You should know it.
To date, it appears that the authorities have been deaf to the appeals and warnings of all the people of Hout Bay, whatever their origin and condition.
It seems that the City of Cape Town does not have any interest in Hout Bay except for collecting and increasing taxes and cost of basic services: (rates + 500% in 14 years – electricity + 600% in 10 years – water + 700% in 10 years). Is it right? Should we close our eyes to what is happening here and move to another area?
We hope that you will take into consideration this message from people who love your country and worry for it.
We thank you in advance for your attention and look forward to hearing from you.
* Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille responds:
Dear Pierre-Marie and Valerie Barnabe, your letter, addressed to me and sent to the Sentinel News, refers.
Allow me to thank all the thousands of generous residents from Hout Bay and the rest of Cape Town who responded to needs of vulnerable communities when the fire destroyed their lives.
The letter addressed to me is filled with inaccuracies and false information. Firstly, the suggested rates increases are incorrect.
Secondly, what is happening in Hout Bay is happening across Cape Town, and indeed in all cities across the globe. It is called urbanisation. Just during the period 2001to 2011 we experienced a 30% hike in population growth. Based on the 10-year average annual growth between 2001 and 2011, the total Cape Town population is expected to grow by a further one million people by 2021, and by another one million by 2030, when the total Cape Town population will be an estimated 5.8 million.
While we welcome all those who want to make Cape Town their home, we cannot deny the impact that this has on infrastructure for service delivery. People move here in search for opportunities and a better life for them and their families.
However, these population increases do not mean that we will get increased funds from national government in
order to maintain infrastructure or speed up delivery.
It cannot be business as usual to meet the housing demand in the city.
Allow me to give you the undertaking that Imizamo Yethu is a priority for the City of Cape Town. After the fire our officials have been on site almost on a daily basis to meet with the leadership and assist the community members.
Just two weeks ago we held a joint press conference with the community leaders of the Imizamo Yethu community. Together, we set out our plan to deal with the crisis in the area. We had long decided that re-blocking is needed in the informal settlement, so that we can prevent another catastrophe from taking place in the future. Through this process, we will create access roads for emergency services as well as serviced sites for the residents who stay there. The entire process which would be to the benefit of IY would cost us
R100 million because it entails redesigning the entire area. We call it superblocking.
Super-blocking is an initiative in the City to provide better services in areas where density or other restrictive conditions do not allow for providing individual serviced sites. It provides for blocks separated by roads and pedestrian/service corridors, with electrification and communal taps and toilets provided per block. Road access, electrification, fire-breaks, and fire hydrants are anticipated to significantly reduce fire risk in an area such as Imizamo Yethu. Super-blocks can be further developed to eventually provide tenure if conditions allow.
Water points have already been restored.
Water, sanitation and electricity will be enhanced or provided based on super-blocking, but interim measures are in place.
We learnt the hard way that we were completely overambitious in the thinking that the super-blocking project would be completed in such a short space of time. The terrain is mountainous and therefore very difficult to build on. We remain committed to this project, but found the need to address the humanitarian need faced by the affected residents in the interim.
As a result, we have agreed to create four temporary relocation areas (TRAs) which will allow the community to have their privacy and independence back until they can move back to the super-blocked zone.
What we are attempting in IY is ground-breaking.
We have the support
of all IY residents to make a success of this project. Now is the time for all Hout Bay residents to continue helping us build a caring and inclusive city. We have come too far, and the people of Imizamo Yethu need us all to work together on this long-lasting solution.