From the news desk

Blikkiesdorp up in arms over runaway

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A move by the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) to realign a runway at the Cape Town International Airport has raised the ire of Blikkiesdorp residents, who could face potential relocation as a result. With ACSA having authorised a company called SRK Consulting to conduct an independent ‘environmental risk assessment’ over the proposed development; residents have lambasted the lack of engagement and consideration on the part of ACSA, as well as the City of Cape Town.

Chairperson of the Blikkiesdorp Joint Committee, Jerome Daniels was adamant that the community had yet to be consulted by either ACSA or the City with regards to their future in the area, despite the risk assessment process having been on-going since the latter part of 2014. This was despite prior claims from the City that residents were engaged on the matter.

“What we found out is that we are definitely going to be affected by this realignment, yet the airport and consultants couldn’t give us a straight answer as to whether we are going to be relocated. The community has taken it upon themselves to say that if we are to be relocated, the only thing we want is a house and not to be relocated from one TRA to another TRA,” he said.

The Blikkiesdorp community has also been allegedly kept in the dark of the ownership of the land in question, with residents reportedly receiving conflicting reports in this regard. Whilst the City has been insistent that the property is owned by the airport, Daniels said the airport had contradicted this be suggesting the City were in fact the land-owners.

With Blikkiesdorp serving as a settlement for impoverished informal dwellers relocated from other parts of the peninsula, he said any uprooting would have a bigger impact that most would imagine.

“The only thing we need to have from the City now is clarity on this relocation, or whatever plans they have for Blikkiesdorp. We have enlisted the Right to Know (R2K) campaign to help us get access to that memorandum of agreement (between the City and ACSA), so that we can know what our future holds,” he said.

He said that should this demand not be met within the next seven days, residents, as well as those from neighbouring affected areas would take to the streets to march.

The Blikkiesdorp community has also called for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) that is inclusive of those likely to be affected, and which takes into account what will happened to those residing in the area.

ACSA head of communications, Deborah Francis said as part of the assessment, they needed undergo a public participation process, something she alleged had been conducted to several nodal points in the affected areas. Whilst the company were unable to provide information around the independent EIA process being conducted by SRK, they were able to inform those concerned about the proposed development, albeit prior to any approval.

“If we go to various communities it may come across as if we are contaminating the process. That could cause an issue in terms of the outcome. As part of the public process however, the community is more than welcome to provide SRK with their comments around the intention of building a new realigned runway,” she explained.

She said ACSA had advertised the public process through a campaign using the various community newspapers, but acknowledged their need be more intensive manners of engagement with the public.

She was adamant that they had visited several of the area’s most likely to be affected. This included Delft, in which Blikkiesdorp is situated.

“We go to specific nodal points, where we can at least attract most people around that community to be able access the public participation process,” she added. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)

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