Service delivery protest erupts in BCMM

Cllr Sue Bentley

Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality:

The residents of Bongweni and Fort Grey in Ward 31 feel they were forced to burn tyres and block off Buffalo Pass road yesterday in order to have their voices heard by the Buffalo City ANC-lead municipality.

Their protest was a reaction to BCMM Law Enforcement moving into the area to remove the illegal electricity connections which had been connected during the last month. While the communities of these two areas acknowledge that their illegal connections amounted to theft, they have been waiting for years for BCMM to address their land issues, to no avail.

Many of these residents have lived on the land for the last 30 years and are desperate to receive proper services, but due to the fact that both communities fall within the dangerous noise contour of the airport and any future expansion of the airport, they will need to be moved. BCMM cannot therefore provide proper infrastructure to the area. BCMM has failed these communities by not making land available for them to live on legally.

In order to gain clarity on this issue for these communities, and to try and force BCMM to act on this current unacceptable situation, I submitted the following question to Council in June 2014:

NOTING THAT Farm Portion 1 Greydell 871, commonly referred to as Bongweni, belongs to the Department of Public Works and that non conclusive discussions have been held with BCMM regarding the future of the land over many years, and

FURTHER NOTING THAT at the IDP hearings held on 22/4/13 at the Kidds Beach Community Hall it was stated and minuted that “Bongweni belongs to Public Works. Solid waste will not be serviced by BCMM – it must be serviced by Public Works”,

AND FURTHER NOTING THAT no provision was made in the IDP budget for 2014/15 for Bongweni,

AND FURTHER NOTING THAT brick dwellings and businesses are being erected illegally and without approved building plans on the land with neither Public Works nor BCMM stating categorically that all building must cease with immediate effect,

AND FURTHER NOTING THAT with the land still being zoned Agricultural land it is impossible to implement Health and Public Safety bylaws where the farming of pigs and other animals is occurring between residential dwellings

TO ASK of the Executive Mayor, Cllr Z. Ncitha, and/or the Acting Municipal Manager, Mr A. Fani:

  1. i) To give clarity on the future of the land known as Bongweni and the final outcomes of discussions held between the Department of Public Works and BCMM.
  2. ii) To give clarity on the discussions with Airport authorities re potential airport expansion and its influence on the land known as Bongweni.

iii) To give information on, as Bongweni does not form part of the IDP budget for 2014/5, where the budget will come from regarding the promises made by the Mayor during her visit to the community in early May 2014 that the roads will be graded; the culvert fixed; that a database will be drawn up to ascertain how many toilets are needed so that toilets and potentially more taps can be provided for the community.

  1. iv) To give information on why BCMM has erected two refuse drop off points in the area if they have no intention of removing solid waste.

To date, this question remains wholly unanswered and bounces from one Council agenda to the next.

While the DA will never condone illegal electricity connections, we commit to fighting to get the voices of the shack dwellers from these two areas heard so that they can be allocated land where they too can enjoy the basic services that are their right.