Monday, 02 February 2015 12:23

Apartheid style Forced Evictions for MyCiti route

Written by Ryan Swano
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Literally and figuratively bulldozing decisions on the MyCiti BRT (bus rapid transit) route through Wynberg in the South Peninsula, the DA-run City of Cape Town has already acted on decisions to demolish homes to clear a way for the MyCity route even when some of those decisions have not yet been ratified.

The remaining families on South Road Wynberg who have not yet moved out of their council-rented units are, with the support of the South Road Residents’ Association, threatening legal action against the city of Cape Town.
 

 

Demolition of homes have started in January and in an IOL report, according to the Wynberg Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association chairwoman Kristina Davidson, it’s a sad moment. Her organisation has butted heads with the city, and despite the fact that the demolition of a further 33 buildings is now looking inevitable, she still thinks the expanded route is an absurd idea. “It just doesn’t make sense… The city keeps telling us that the housing shortage is due to a lack of space, and now they are knocking over perfectly good homes for a road to nowhere.”

Residents occupying city-owned homes along the road have been given until the end of the month to move out. By the end of last month, 26 families still lived in the houses.
Davidson said the expanded road would divide the area, making it difficult for residents to reach schools and shops on the other side as they would be forced to “effectively cross a four-lane highway”.

The ratepayers’ association said the proposed MyCiTi route would include a new four-lane road, a bridge or subway to cross the railway line and turn Main Road into a one-way road between Wetton and Kemms roads.

“The route is not an integrated rapid transit route as it does not connect to the public transport interchanges,” said the association last month.

The groups have proposed alternatives from Ottery and Wetton roads that would not require the demolition of houses or affect businesses.  

According to another IOL report on January 28, Clive Muller of the South Road Residents’ Association said at a public meeting on the Tuesday night before: “We are not against the bus rapid transit (BRT), but why is the city so reluctant to come to the table and talk to the community? We are in the dark but we cannot allow them to go ahead with this.”

Muller echoed the sentiments expressed by many at the meeting that “someone” was going to benefit financially from the project, which the city has estimated will require an investment of at least R4 billion.

“To sacrifice two established road communities with a road scheme from the dark days - that is what we are up in arms about. Once the city has bulldozed these houses, there won’t be time for ‘I told you so’s’.”

Representatives of the taxi industry in Wynberg as well as surrounding areas said they would also be affected by the MyCiTi route.

Apparently the council acts on decisions not yet ratified and according to the above report, Council would only on the following Wednesday consider recommendations to demolish three houses in Plumstead to make way for the proposed MyCiTi route - more than a month after council workers had already started dismantling the structures.

In December 2014 a report on the Voice of the Cape FM website stated that in a bid to counter the City’s decision, the South Road Residents’ Association have submitted a memorandum to both Transport Minister Dipuo Peters, as well as Mayor Patricia De Lille. Amongst the main suggestions is that instead of going ahead with the plans, the existing transport infrastructure in the area should be used.

This is to include the already existing roads, and just upgrade that infrastructure. They can then send the MyCiti to the transport interchanges, so that it can link up with other modes of transport,” he suggested.

Clive Muller of the association added that whilst the City had suggested that the proposal was still in the concept stage, they were in fact already conducting tenders for the construction of the route.

Responding to the claims City Mayoral Committee Member for Transport, Councillor Brett Herron acknowledged that in order to avoid delays in the process, they had put out tenders for the design stage and management of construction. However, he insisted the concept and concept stage was still on-going.

In a December Cape Times report Brett Herron basically sealed Wynberg's fate when he said: “It is quite frankly absurd to suggest we now pursue another road and incur costs of expropriation of properties we don’t own – that would most certainly amount to wasteful expenditure.

Clearly when something is still in a concept stage the city is errant in its actions to already be demolishing homes and we at bruinou.com are concerned that the lack of consultation not only with the tenants who are being evicted but also with representatives of the broader Wynberg community smacks of Apartheid-era spatial planning.

The route, as we understand it, will not be of much benefit to the residents along the route as it does not connect to any of their current transport hubs while cutting an inconvenient swathe dividing an existing community and effectively cutting off residents from amenities.
All this for the sake of servicing affluent communities and tourist destinations much further up the route with no regard for the overall effect on Wynberg and other less affluent communities through which it will cut.
We do agree that there are long-term benefits to having a BRT but we ask if this should be allowed to give city officials carte blanche in dealing with less affluent communities through which the BRT will run.

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