Sanco: Breidbach chaos an over-reaction

The N2 was closed after protests erupted in Breidbach once again
The N2 was closed after protests erupted in Breidbach once again
Image: Malibongwe Dayimani

Chaotic scenes erupted yesterday on the N2 between East London and King William’s Town when angry Breidbach community members took to the streets to protest for houses.

The protest, which caused massive delays on the busy freeway, started at 4am yesterday and ended at 1.30pm following clashes between stone-throwing rioters and police.

King William’s Town police spokeswoman Captain Siphokazi Mawisa said the police fired rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.

“Police were called to a protest at about 5am. On arrival the N2 was closed by burning tyres.

“Firefighters were summoned to the scene. No one was injured and no arrests have been made.”

The protest took place mainly near the Breidbach junction, blocking traffic from both directions, said Eastern Cape provincial transport spokeswoman Khuselwa Rantjie.

Traffic officers had to close off the N2 at Hargreaves traffic circle and at Blainey junction in Berlin, Rantjie said.

Rantjie said while protesters and police were clashing , traffic had to be diverted along Ndevana Road towards Zwelitsha through to King William’s Town.

“After the protest stopped, a cleaning process commenced with workers removing stones, burnt tyres and other debris.”

The protesters at the scene shouted that they were angry about delays to the start of a project which was approved to build 531 houses, but human settlements spokeswoman Phiwokuhle Soga said: “The housing project is on track in terms of the project plan. It was outlined to start in June 2018, and from July 2017 until now was at planning stage which is now concluded.”

Soga said the 531 houses would be built on available land in Breidbach at a cost of R72-million, and bulk infrastructure and internal services including roads would be built by BCM at a cost of R56-million.

“BCM has committed 150 units for the gap market (middle-income earners bringing in between R3500 and R15000 per month).

“A process of verification is under way for this development,” said Soga. Funding for the project was approved by former human settlements MEC Helen Sauls-August in July 2017.

Donisa Philedensia said the community was promised that a contractor would be on the site two weeks ago. “We want to see things happening now. We want the contractor here.”

Sanco provincial secretary Tony Duba said the residents were over-reacting. “The project is at a tail end. It is all systems go. A contractor is coming in later today. The project is ready but the challenge was communication.”

Duba claimed the chaos was sparked by some unnamed government officials who had created confusion. “ We have residents belonging to various political parties and we heard that a meeting only addressed a certain group.

“That is the cause of this. Some people were left in the dark.”

BCM human settlements regional director Mthobeli Mbambanisi was one of the officials who visited the area to calm the tensions yesterday. — malibongwed@dispatch.co.za

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