Earlier this month, Blikkiesdorp residents marched to Mayor Patricia de Lille’s office where they handed a memorandum to the Mayor demanding answers to housing concerns. Since no official response was communicated to residents, yesterday residents planned a picket outside the Cape Town Civic Centre where the Mayor planned to meet with members of the Blikkiesdorp Joint Committee.
Blikkiesdorp was constructed on the borders of the Cape Town International Airport. While residents planned for a six month relocation, they continue to reside in the temporary location nine years later.
Secretary of the Blikkiesdorp Joint Committee Etienne Claasen explained that the community, after having attempted to engage with the City for nine years, on Thursday met with the Mayor.
“We had our discussion, and posed questions, and the mayor affirmed that she knows that it’s not a suitable place for people to stay.”
He said that the committee will now develop a system for Blikkiesdorp and the neighbouring Freedom Farm and Malawi Camp, which it will present to the Mayor in two weeks’ time.
While the committee meeting continued behind closed doors, outside the offices, Blikkiesdorp residents continued picketing.
Claasen said that the picketing residents cited concern that the mayor ignored previous pleas by community members to have the situation addressed.
While the meeting was successful, the mayor did not make any promises, but instead scheduled a meeting that will take place in two weeks’ time, in which possible viable solutions will be discussed.
“Yesterday, we planned the way forward and discussed the various issues that community members continue to face. In two weeks’ time, we want everything on paper,” Claasen asserted.
Inclusive in the list of concerns of the Blikkiesdorp community is the issue of housing, where many individuals for 20 years remain on the list of residents who qualify for homes without any recourse.
In a report that was commissioned by the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA), plans to upgrade the airport are outlined, which includes the relocation of Blikkiesdorp, along with the neighbouring Freedom Farm and Malawi Camp residents.
“Residents will be relocated due to safety concerns, irrespective of whether the runway is re-aligned or not,” the report stated.
Some Blikkiesdorp residents are set to be moved to land that is being made available on Symphony Way, where 2,738 housing units are to be constructed.
On Friday, the mayor said City officials are working on plans for two pieces of land for qualified beneficiaries from Blikkiesdorp, Freedom Farm and Malawi Camp. These officials will revert with developed plans and timelines within two weeks.
“The City of Cape Town also undertakes to spend a month conducting a survey of the amount of people residing in the area. Local community members will be employed to assist the city with this process,” said the Mayor in a statement.
The residents of Blikkiesdorp will elect and establish a Project Steering Committee and then we are going to plan the way forward together.
Claasen explained that the City will be conducting a survey to assess which of the residents qualify for housing and will automatically be placed on a waiting list.
Since Blikkiesdorp was established as temporary means to house residents, he said that approximately twice a week community members are relocated to permanent housing, a process that began last month.
“We told the City that we do not want people moving into Blikkiesdorp, we want the number of residents to decrease, no one should stay here any longer,” Claasen continued.