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​THE need for housing, primary health care, water and sanitation were among a number of burning issues raised by people in Region G at the stakeholder consultation meeting held on Wednesday, 8 February.

Executive mayor Parks Tau (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)Executive mayor Parks Tau: City will work according to people's needs (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)Members of the community gathered in their numbers, representing various organised groups including non-governmental organisations, businesses and churches, at the Protea South Multi-Purpose Hall. They came from all corners of the deep south, including Poortjie, Orange Farm, Lenasia and Eldorado Park.

Executive Mayor Parks Tau and members of his mayoral committee were there to listen to the submissions from residents. Also present was the regional director, Mlamleli Belot.

Giving the opening address, Tau said that the City wanted to work according to people’s needs. “We need to change our mindsets. The City should not be viewed as a delivery truck but instead be part of the community.

“The City of Johannesburg alone cannot do it. We need to know what it is that you need done in your respective communities. Therefore, let us partner.” Tau said better liveable communities could only be built if members themselves understood what needed to be done. “Liveability can only be identified in communities.”

His short speech was followed by floods of questions, recommendations and complaints about range of public services from the floor.

Among the first to speak was Tshimagazo Soko, a resident of ward 12 in Vlakfontein, who complained about an incomplete housing project in extensions 12 and 13 in Patsing. “The project has been on a hold for a long time and no one has come forward to tell us anything about it. We need these houses to be completed because we are living in informal settlements without proper water services and sanitation.”

Demarcation issues were also brought forward, and Soko complained that the City had promised to move the residents of the informal settlements of Eikenhof but they had not yet been moved.

stakeholder (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)Scores of Region G residents attended the stakeholder meeting (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)Responding to the concerns, the portfolio head of housing in the City, Dan Bovu, said the City had committed itself to completing all incomplete projects in the new financial year. “Some of the projects are handled by the province. We have approached them and they have agreed to work together with the City to ensure that all housing projects are completed and handed over.”

Other housing projects earmarked for completion include those in Orange Farm, Lehae and Lufhereng. However, Bovu warned that people must not invade houses without permission once they were completed.

He added that people in informal settlements in Eikenhof would be moved when the houses were finished, and he addressed the long-standing issue of the relocation of Thembelihle township.

Dolomitic land
Back in 2002, the City took a decision to move the people of Thembelihle from a dolomitic area to a safer place in Vlakfontein. This decision was taken after a geological study carried out by the former Southern Metropolitan Substructure found that Thembelihle was built on dolomitic land and therefore was unsafe for human habitation.

This meant it would be uneconomic to install underground services and the cost of housing would be prohibitive for the target market envisaged. There has been research to refute the 2002 findings. Bovu said the City still stood by its decision not to build more houses in the area, as it had proven to be unsafe. People living there would be moved to a place known by the province.

He vowed that the remaining housing projects would be of high quality. “We need to start building houses that will really better the lives of our people. They must be a full package, including water and sanitation, as these are desperate needs in communities.”

Health care
Another burning issue was raised by Irene Haynes from Eldorado Park. She said people with disabilities were unable to access health care services because they could not reach hospitals and clinics. Haynes appealed to the City to provide mobile health facilities.

Responding to the concern, the member of the mayoral committee responsible for human development, Nonceaba Molwele, said: “The City is re-engineering its primary health care system, such as the home-based care.

“We have targeted areas where people travel more than five kilometres to get to the nearest health centre. We are working with community volunteers and our health workers. In Protea South, we already have relations with NGOs that assist with home-based care,” said Molwele.

In addition, Molwele said, the City was renovating a number of clinics in the region including Thulamtwana in Finetown and Senethemba in Poortjie.

Chris Vondo, the member of the mayoral committee for community development, spoke about skills shortage and unemployment. He stressed the critical need for skills training that was relevant to business and the economy.

“We need to start developing our children from an early age,” he said, adding that facilities such as internet centres and mobile libraries were necessary for youth development. He urged communities to take ownership of recreational facilities. “These are your facilities and you must ensure that they are well taken care off.”

About unemployed but skilled youth, Vondo said the City would do its bit to expose them to opportunities. “We need to develop a database of such young people for future opportunities that might come up in the City.”

Also speaking about youth development, Tau said young people with business ideas should come forward so they could be referred to relevant departments and institutions that could help them get their businesses off the ground. Those already running business in the township were urged to register their companies so they could be recognised as formal enterprises.

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