Ndancama residents desperate to relocate

Some Ndancama informal settlement residents who thought they would have slept in their new RDP houses last night will be moved today.

WAITING GAME: Nomvula mhlaba, 60, outside the shack she occupies with her four children in Ekuthuleni , Scenery park. Mhlaba has waited for a EDP house for a decade. Picture: BHONGO JACOB

Buffalo City Metro (BCM) cancelled yesterday’s planned relocation at the 11th hour, sparking fears from residents they would not be relocated at all.

But BCM spokesman Sam Ngwenya allayed their fears, saying some of the 514 beneficiaries would be relocated today.

He said they’d had to delay yesterday’s planned relocation to Scenery Park to today because of “technicalities”.

But for Nomvula Mhlaba, 60, who cannot recall when she settled in the area, there was still no guarantee she would be among those relocated today.

“All I can recall is that I gave birth to my child, who is now 22, while living here.”

Mhlaba has been on the waiting list ever since 2004.

She says every time a new council is elected her hopes of being relocated “into a proper home” grow.

She said when the metro announced this week it would relocate some beneficiaries, “I kept praying that I would be next in line”.

“There is nothing that pains my heart more than seeing people that moved into this informal settlement way later than me leaving here and going into their new homes. I have lost all hope of ever getting a house from this municipality,” said Mhlaba.

Ngwenya said the city was still committed to relocating beneficiaries.

“I know the anxiety and excitement and mixed emotions it carries for our people. Remember they have gone through a lot living in harsh conditions, so getting a house is a dream that sometimes takes such a process that it creates doubt and one can lose hope, especially if those around you are moving already.

“But we are determined and we are resolute in this programme, which will give [beneficiaries] dignity.”

This was not the first time that residents have been disappointed by not being relocated to their new homes.

Last year Ndancama residents were among the 4500 BCM housing beneficiaries who were put on hold as the city failed to spend its housing grants halfway through the financial year.

The Dispatch reported at the time that only R94.9-million of the R491-million the metro received for its urban settlements development grant (USDG) had been spent halfway through the year.

The area was supposed to see 1775 units for both Fynbos and Ndancama built. But that was not to be.

When the financial year ended, the Dispatch again reported that the city missed the deadline to complete and deliver 1137 RDP meant for Fynbos, East Bank and Ndancama informal settlements residents.

As a result, it cost the metro more than R13.4-million in extra costs for time extensions and for contractors’ lost time. For the Ndancama project BCM has lost R1.4-million.

However, some residents were relocated on Tuesday.

Nosisa Sibakhulu, who has lived in a shack for 20 years, was one of the lucky ones.

“I feel like I have some dignity now. Living in a shack means you live with the risk of fires that can destroy everything.

“I am looking forward to the summer season, which previously was a difficult season for us because we constantly had to live in wet shacks,” she said. — simthandilef@dispatch.co.za

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