New minibus taxi rank part of housing project

Brett Herron Photo: City of Cape Town

There appears to be headway being made with amendments to the City of Cape Town’s plans for Phase 4 of the Masiphumelele housing project.

The R55 million project to build 227 Breaking New Ground (BNG) state-subsidised houses in Masiphumelele is being constructed on two erven: one situated on the corner of Ntansiso and Ntantala roads and the other in Myeza Road.

It became the centre of controversy when community leaders within Masiphumelele objected to the City’s plans to include a fire station on the land, which was initially set aside for housing only.
Mayor Patricia de Lille has now said the imprint of the fire station would be reduced to make 87% of the land available for housing.

“The City is reducing the imprint of the fire station to make 87% of the land available for high-density formal housing.
“In order to address the housing need in the area, the City will look at building a range of housing opportunities in a high-density layout, with a mix of subsidised housing and council rental units.”

Dumsani Nhlapo says what he calls “the recognised leadership in Masiphumelele” had a meeting with the City about the development of land on the Solele farm, especially with regards to the City’s plans for a fire station.

“If you recall the land was purchased for GAP housing, in 2013 by MEC of Human Settlement Bonginkosi Madikizela, We agree that land is for people who are earning R3 000 upwards, we sent a report to the Masiphumelele community, all of them were happy about that.”

He said that nothing changed until they heard about the fire station being planned for the area, and he says he personally went to the land to stop the contractor’s work and demanded that the City representatives come and speak to the Masiphumelele community.

He said there is a memorandum of understanding being formed with the City about the plans for development on the Solele land.

“What we heard is that the land is divided into 80% GAP housing and 20% for a small fire station, which we won’t debate now,” he said.

He says the community leaders will present this to the people of Masiphumelele, and if they agree with 20% of the land being used for a fire station, the community leaders will give the City this feedback.

“For now we still stand for GAP housing, until the City gives us a written memo.”

Brett Herron, the City’s mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, said they were making every effort to improve the living conditions of Masiphumelele residents and needed the support of the community.
“Access to decent housing opportunities and public transport changes people’s lives,” he said.

Mr Herron said construction of the platforms that are needed for the houses, as well as the civil engineering services for the provision of water, electricity, sewerage, street lights and roads, should be completed within the next few weeks.
He said he was confident the supply chain management process will be concluded by the end of the year so that construction can start early in 2018.

“We are well aware of the dire need for housing in Masiphumelele and I can assure the community we are doing everything within our means to ensure that this project is completed as soon as possible,” Mr Herron said.

“We issued the tender for the construction of the top structures, i.e. the houses and the installation of electricity and street lights, in August,” he said.

The tender for the construction of a new minibus taxi facility, on the corner of Kommetjie and Pokela roads, was issued on Friday September 29.

“Importantly, we will issue two separate tenders for the development of a commercial area and housing opportunities on the remainder of the land. This means that, once fully developed, this site will provide residents with a broad range of services – from access to public transport and retail, to housing opportunities,” Mr Herron said.

He said the new minibus taxi facility will provide residents with a safe and dignified waiting area.

“The facility will be equipped with a rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) panel system for electricity generation as well as rainwater tanks. An administration building will be constructed where operators and management can conduct meetings. Drop-off and pick-up facilities and universally accessible walking lanes will provide safe and easy access to the facility,” said Mr Herron.

Currently, minibus taxi operators are operating from Erf 1728 – a vacant erf with no services or facilities for commuters and operators.

The informal taxi rank is used by 3 300 commuters daily. They are exposed to the elements – wind, rain, sun – while they are waiting for taxis, and there are no ablution facilities.

The new minibus-taxi facility will accommodate about 60 minibus taxis and will serve four destinations, including Fish Hoek, Kommetjie, Simon’s Town and Noordhoek.

Mr Herron has encouraged residents who need temporary work opportunities to register at the local sub-council office.

He said, once appointed, the contractor for this project will be obliged to provide temporary employment opportunities to a number of local residents whose names are on the sub-council database.

“It is therefore very important that those interested in these opportunities ensure that their names are on the database. The same applies to local subcontractors from the area,” he said.

Simon Pasiya, a new voice from the community who has recently spoken out as a representative of the Masiphumelele Business and Development Forum, said the people of Masiphumelele welcomed the new taxi rank.

“We want it done completely, as soon as possible, to avoid the filth caused by not having the proper taxi rank and facilities. All other places have ranks, why not us, we have waited long enough for it,” he said.

On the subject of housing, he said all the Masiphumelele residents want is proper and decent houses. He said: “Low cost houses do not suit our valley or the south peninsula at large.

“We as the Masiphumelele Business and Development Forum, plan to remove shacks at Masi completely by means of flats at each back yard. We want decent houses on the next available land to upgrade Masi and the valley,” he said.

Community leader Mr Nhlapo has publicly told Masiphumelele residents that this new, emerging voice for the community, is false news. “We are distancing ourselves from these people who call themselves leaders – those people represent Masiphumelele structures, they are not even known by Masiphumelele people.”

Mr De Lille has called for political parties to set aside their differences. She said: “I am making an appeal to all political parties not to exploit the situation in the area. When the City wanted to provide additional sanitation services with portable flush toilets, the community was incited not to accept it,” Ms De Lille said.

“One myth that must be debunked is that the City does not care about Masiphumelele. We have been working with the community and will continue to do so, but it is the political interference that is exploiting the situation which stalls progress,” Ms De Lille said.