Atlantis residents have for the second time rebuffed the city’s efforts to relocate over 300 families squatting at the Vissershok landfill site to open land next to the Atlantis industrial area.In October last year residents of Atlantis’s middle class Avondale suburb were up in arms over the city’s proposal to set up a Temporary Relocation Area for the Vissershok squatters on vacant land east of the industrial area bordering on the western edge of the suburb.
The city retreated and has now identified three possible sites for the squatters, one of which is now on the south side of the Atlantis industrial area.
But Atlantis residents are adamant they do not want a TRA in their area and have submitted a petition with 3,000 signatories to the city objecting to the plan.
Initially, Avondale residents were concerned a TRA adjacent to their suburb would devalue their properties but of additional concern is that the high rate of unemployment in the area means already overcrowded state facilities would be further burdened and an influx of more unemployed people could increase the high levels of crime and drug and alcohol abuse in the area.
The city is under pressure to relocate the 312 families at the Frankdale informal settlement at the Vissershok landfill site near the N7 as the landfill site has reached capacity and the Frankdale families are living within a 50 metre hazard zone around the dumping site.
Koeberg Sub-Council Chair Claude Ipser said in 2008 the city planned to move the squatters to Van Schoorsdrift off the N7 but that was strongly opposed by farmers in the area.
Then “out of the blue” in 2009 the city advertised for comments on a newly identified site next to the Atlantis Avondale suburb, said Ipser.
“Some official, when asked to look for a suitable site, in his wisdom came up with the Avondale site. When I heard of it I sent an email to the director of housing and planning saying that this was lunacy and they must immediately withdraw it,” said Ipser.
He admitted that the city made a mistake in attempting to set up a TRA next to Avondale and that on both occasions identifying only one potential site.
“It was a disaster. It caused a lot of harm. It was a waste of time and money,” he said, “the person who came up with the site had very little sense of (community) dynamics.”
Regarding the newly identified possible site in Atlantis, resident and former ANC MP Danny Olifant said the city advertised for comment on a new TRA site in March this year.
He said a petition with “over three thousand signatories” objecting to the TRA was submitted to the City last month.
“Why can’t the city relocate those people to white areas? Last year in October (Cape Town Executive Mayor Dan) Plato and (Premier Helen) Zille promised that no structures would be erected in Atlantis after hearing our objections,” said Olifant.
He said the people they wanted to relocate to Atlantis were from an informal settlement and unemployed, meaning they would compete for the already scarce job opportunities in Atlantis.
State services such as the Atlantis Day Hospital was supposed to cater for 20 000 but had to deal with about five times that number, he said.
He said residents would fight the establishment of a TRA in their area “all the way to the Constitutional Court” if necessary.
Coordinator of the Atlantis Concerned Residents Forum, Melanie Andrews said schools in Atlantis were already overcrowded.
“Why can’t they build the shacks in white areas? Why Atlantis?” she asked.
Ipser said the relocation of the Frankdale residents was “urgent”.
He said the city had applied to the province to approve three sites currently zoned for agricultural purposes.
The sites were along the old Malmesbury road, south of the Atlantis industrial area and at the Morning Star small holdings area.
Although all three pieces of the land were owned by the city, the rezoning approval was required from the province, he said. — Peter Luhanga, West Cape News