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Relocation of more than 880 families from Cape Town central railway line completed

Relocation of more than 880 families from Cape Town central railway line completed
People who occupied the railway line in Philippi and Nyanga, Cape Town, have been relocated to this site along Stock Road in Philippi East. (Photo: Sandiso Phaliso)

Prasa says it can now recover infrastructure and restore train services.

The temporary relocation of more than 880 families who illegally occupied the railway reserve in Philippi and Nyanga, Cape Town, has been completed.

Their shacks next to the Stock Road train station in Philippi East were on land owned by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa).

People had settled on the railway line and rail reserve during the Covid lockdown in 2020, when many could no longer afford to pay rent as backyarders. Trains had already stopped running on the line in October 2019 because of theft and vandalism.

The Central Line has been partially cleared up to Nyanga station, with the latest relocation, which began in December, as part of the plan to reinstate the remainder of the line — to Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha.

At the temporary Stock Road site, the City of Cape Town has provided basic services such as water and portable toilets. But residents have been complaining that there aren’t enough toilets and the supply of water unreliable.

Thandekile Mncwango said, “We believe we have been dumped here, ignored and not taken care of.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: Relocation of Cape Town’s Central Line occupiers hits a snag with water and sanitation supply problems

They have to fetch water for drinking and cooking at neighbouring suburbs Acacia and Heinz Park, or go further to informal settlements with standpipes.

Thandekile Mncwango said, “We believe we have been dumped here, ignored and not taken care of.”

Anelisa Tembani, central line

Anelisa Tembani says she walks about 500 metres to collect water with her 20-litre bucket. (Photo: Sandiso Phaliso)

Prasa spokesperson Andiswa Makanda told GroundUp on Thursday: “The relocated households will allow Prasa to recover the infrastructure and restore services from Nyanga to Chris Hani [in Khayelitsha].”

Makanda said that because the relocation site is temporary, the households will later be moved to a permanent site “once the statutory processes have been finalised”.

She said security personnel guarding the railway site will remain “for the foreseeable future” to prevent any possible unauthorised occupation.

On the permanent relocation of 1,251 households occupying rail reserves in Langa to the Weltevreden site in Mitchells Plain, Makanda said this was dependent on the outcome of the rezoning application submitted to the City.

The public were given an opportunity to comment on the application and now it is up to Prasa to respond and explain its position on each of the comments. Once Prasa has made its submissions to the City on these, the Municipal Planning Tribunal will make a final ruling on the applications, said Makanda. DM

First published by GroundUp.

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  • Thanks Daily Maverick for keeping us up to date about progress in our beautiful country.

  • Greeff Kotzé says:

    The articles on this issue repeatedly fail to properly contextualize the complaints about water and sanitation provision. What access to water and ablution facilities existed on the railway line? Were the residents using the railway station’s facilities, or did they have no access in the immediate vicinity?

    The reason this is important to the discussion is because, to the outside observer, it seems that the living conditions of these residents must have improved after relocation. Logically, then, any further demands beyond an already improved situation would thus be an attempt to extract additional resources from the city (i.e. ratepayers) by virtue of having had rail commuters “by the balls”. And I would anticipate that the general public’s sense of goodwill, in light of extortion tactics of this kind, would be low.

    But I guess it’s certainly also possible that the issue has not been fully explained, and these residents are now genuinely worse off. The hasty and ham-fisted covid lockdowns truly have caused massive disruption in our societies, the effects of which still linger in many places.

  • Rae Earl says:

    No one asked these people to invade a railway line and effectively deny people’s ability to get transport to work and back. The City of Cape Town has done a great job in assisting these people up to now and will carry on doing so. It takes time as the city has hundreds of other pressing issues to deal with. Compare what is happening in Cape Town to what the ANC is doing in the wreckage of Ethekwini and KZN. Virtually nothing after a long period of devastating weather and riots etc. If Zuma’s MK party had to come into power there, the situation would be even more hopeless. Cape Town is doing its best without any assistance from the ANC.

  • Mike Lawrie says:

    Break the law and someone gives you a house. Then you bitch because it is not a mansion.
    Nice if you can get it!
    These folk should have been bulldozed out of the way, or prosecuted for stealing land.

    • Helen Swingler says:

      Bulldozed?! These are people, not rocks. The situation is complex. Inhumanity is not helpful.

      • Ben Harper says:

        Not complex at all, you don’t have to be educated to know that there will be consequences for building a shack on a railway line and in doing so, compromising the wellbeing of tens of thousands of commuters who rely on trains to get to work but now have to fork out a fortune to use taxis and buses. No sympathy, they SHOULD have been bulldozed

  • Matthew Quinton says:

    Gotta love the overweight person complaining about having to walk 500m to collect free water for her free house.

  • Andre Swart says:

    “What get’s rewarded gets done!”

    When trespassing, illegal squatting and looting of copper and steel, get REWARDED with ‘relocation’ it will GROW!

    More and more migrants will flood the Cape, deliberately tresspass, squat and strip copper and steel … hoping they will get relocated, grants, free water and electricity … the African dream!

    Reality dictates that lawlessness must be punished, not rewarded, for a democracy to succeed.

  • John P says:

    The big question is where did these people come from, were they originally from the Western Cape? Further to this why is it the city’s responsibility to relocate them at ratepayers expense, Prasa is a national Government department, surely it is their responsibility to recover their own property?

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