City to roll out services for backyard dwellers

The City of Cape Town will soon roll out services to all backyard dwellers on City-owned rental unit properties through their Backyarders Programme.

A presentation on the programme was done at the monthly Sub-council 12 meeting on Thursday June 22.

Eddie Andrews, the mayoral committee member for area south, said the presentation would be tabled at all sub-councils in area south and Sub-council 12 was the first to hear it.

Mr Andrews said they’re currently conducting a survey of all backyard dwellers on City-owned rental properties.

This programme aims to provide them with basic services such as flush toilets connected to municipal mains, a tap stand, a wash basin, a water dispensing system, which is a water management device with a tag, a prepaid electricity meter and refuse collection.

Between 2014 and this year there have been 705 installations in Tafelsig and 318 in Eastridge. Tafelsig has had the highest installations in the city.

Johan Gerber, from the City’s informal settlements and backyarder’s department, said there was a huge backlog of housing provision. “People on the housing waiting list will, for the foreseeable future, continue to live in informal areas and backyards,” he said.

Mr Gerber said in some areas there had been challenges, causing delays in the implementation of services. This includes gangsterism, limited access to backyards and limited space in some backyards for placement of toilets. “It is difficult to do underground connections, and tenants are not always willing to allow services for backyarders. There are also vandalism and theft of already completed plumbing installations and concrete paved areas being demolished and reinstated in order to lay sewer and water pipes,” he said.

Sheval Arendse, Sub-council 12 chairperson, said backyard dwellings absorbed two thirds of new households, twice as many as those absorbed into informal settlements.

He said backyard dwellers had become one of the fastest growing sectors.

“The quality and size of backyard dwellings vary greatly. And backyard households live in unsafe, overcrowded conditions and have inadequate access to services,” said Mr Arendse.

He said backyard tenants may be small households of between three and six. “These are residents who may not qualify for a housing subsidy, those who prefer to rent, and people who only require temporary or short-term accommodation.

“Those tenants who stayed or have stayed in backyard units for a number of years may be on government waiting lists and ultimately seek ownership,” he said.

Mr Arendse said the City of Cape Town was aware of the housing situation and wanted to assist the backyarders who live on council housing rental property with electricity and water.

Danny Christians, councillor for Ward 81 (Rocklands) said there were many structures which were illegal. He said some did not comply with the norms and standards set out in the National Building Regulations and/or municipal by-laws in relation to acceptability of additional structures, health and safety.

“There are too many units on a site, poorly constructed informal dwellings and insufficient space that does not comply with the national housing norms. The minimum house size is 42sqm.

“I am of the opinion that the City of Cape Town, being in possession of a strong and spatial planning framework to transform human settlements into dignified housing opportunities does not have the land capacity to do so. An integrated approach with all spheres of government must be maintained to advance the backyarders’ programme,” he said.