Kosovo residents in the dark about Covid-19 move

Kosovo informal settlement.

Residents of Kosovo informal settlement, off New Eisleben Road, say they have not yet been consulted about their relocation to temporary residential areas being undertaken to de-densify the area during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Chumisa Thompson, chairwoman of the settlement’s project steering committee involved in the Southern Corridor Integrated Human Settlement Programme, a joint initiative between the three tiers of government and Mitchell’s Plain backyarders – from Woodlands in particular – said all they knew was what they had heard on radio.

In a statement dated Tuesday March 31, Human Settlements MEC Tertuis Simmers said part of the plan would be to erect three-storey temporary residential units (TRUs) for those being relocated.

“Our focus will particularly be on moving the elderly and disabled, as they are our priority and we regard them as the most vulnerable to the effects of the Covid-19 virus,” he said.

These units, which consist of alternative building technology are in line with the national emergency housing norms and standards.

About 2 000 of these units will be built for the greater Kosovo area.

The other informal settlement to be temporarily de-densified is Dunoon, with 1 500 TRUs to be built.

Mr Simmers said there were an estimated 10 000 residents in the two informal settlements, whose safety, health and basic rights were their top priority.

The Plainsman has reported extensively on the Southern Corridor Integrated Human Settlement Programme, with the Woodlands Ratepayers’ Association (WRA) having been in discussions to ensure a 50/50 split of housing opportunities between Kosovo and Mitchell’s Plain residents on the housing waiting list (“Building a home together”, Plainsman, November 27 2019).

The settlements were identified by the national government as being the most densely populated – with Dunoon’s households at 13 500 and Kosovo at 5 500.

Mr Simmers said the identified sites would be near to the settlements.

However, he added: “It must be noted that any movement to another site will only be temporary.

“The sole focus that we have as a department is to ensure that we create conditions which limit the spread of the virus.

“We will engage with the media and provide regular updates so that we have an informed community.”

Mr Simmers said they had to help create as much space as possible to enable social distancing, as this would help combat the spread of Covid-19.

He thanked the national departments of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, the Housing Development Agency and the City of Cape Town, for the fruitful engagements, which “collectively placed them in a stronger position to fight the spread of Covid-19”.

In the next few days they will engage affected communities and explain how the process will unfold.

“We therefore call on residents to work with us, as this will undoubtedly assist in combating the spread of Covid-19, particularly since it ensures social distancing, which is our collective challenge during this unprecedented period,” he said.

“We have to stop the spread. As the Western Cape Government, we remain committed to accelerating human settlement delivery, while promoting social inclusion through the development of integrated, resilient, safe and sustainable human settlements in an open opportunity society,” said Mr Simmers.