Thabiso Goba
3 minute read
6 Jul 2022
07:05

KZN premier urges flood victims to move into temporary houses

Thabiso Goba

The temporary units the government is planning to build are 30 square metres in size, made of corrugated iron and have two rooms including a large bedroom and a kitchen and dining area

KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala.

The KwaZulu-Natal government has urged homeowners who are opposed to the building of temporary houses for flood victims to “find their humanity”.

On Tuesday, the KZN government unveiled a plot of land in Reservoir Hills, Durban, where it plans to install 76 temporary residential units (TRUs) by July 22.

KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala said the process has been stalled by residents who are objecting to the TRUs. Zikalala said the government has held six engagement meetings with the community to find a compromise solution.

They are saying if we build TRUs we will devalue their homes and that’s not true. In times like these we request solidarity as people cannot continue to live in halls forever.

The TRUs the government is planning to build are 30 square metres in size, made of corrugated iron and have two rooms including a large bedroom and a kitchen and dining area. They will also be accompanied by ablution facilities, which consist of showers, large communal taps and sinks.

One TRU is estimated to cost R68 000.

The primary beneficiaries of these TRUs will be people currently being housed at the Truro Community Hall.

Andile Jaca, one of the displaced people, said there were 59 people living at the hall.

All of them used to live in the Annette Drive informal settlement, which was situated along a river bank in Reservoir Hills. The informal settlement was washed away during the April floods and three people died, including an eight-year-old child, whose body still has not been found.

The conditions at the hall are unbearable. Many people have left and returned to where they came from.

“The donations from organisations have long dried up now, so we usually pool in all our food and try to eat. There are days when we go to bed hungry.”

Jaca said when the informal settlement was washed away, they were initially housed at a nearby primary school. However residents complained about this and government had to move them to Truro Hall which is about 20 minutes away from the settlement. This, said Jaca, caused an inconvenience for many as it was far away from their jobs and their lives.

The location where the TRUs will be built is less than one kilometre away from where the informal settlement was located.

Jomo Sibiya, MEC for Human Settlements and Public Works, said the government has identified seven other sites across Durban to build TRUs.

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Sibiya emphasised that the TRUs are temporary and the government has no plan on keeping them longer than five years. Sibiya said the TRUs will be replaced by quality permanent housing, the plans of which have already been drawn up.

“Even the issue of devaluing, it’s not something as human beings we should be worried about when people are living under horrible conditions at halls and have absolutely nothing,” he said.

eThekwini Ward 23 councillor Alicia Kissoon said it was a “fallacy” that residents are against people displaced by floods being built TRUs.

“This area has 19 informal settlements so we have been living side by side for a very long time and will continue to do so in the future,”she said.

The only issue is residents want permanent, quality houses for flood victims so they don’t have to go through again what they did in April.