Mangaung takes urgent steps against land invasion

Mangaung takes urgent steps against land invasion

Illegal land grabs have become one of Mangaung Metro’s biggest headaches as they spread throughout the City. As the Metro grows, it is faced with multiple challenges of human settlement and service delivery, mostly inherited from the previous regime.

Recently, community members invaded land in the Southern suburbs of Bloemfontein in Lourier Park, a walking distance to the Windmill Casino and neighbouring Fauna and Pellissier suburbs. The land invaders came with their building material and starting erecting their shacks; which led to a standoff with residents of Lourier Park, saying they do not want them there as informal settlements are almost always accompanied by crime.

The police have been on the scene to stabilise the situation, however, the conflict continues as the invaders are adamant not to move despite a Court order removing them. The land grabbers say they have waited for far too long to be allocated land by the municipality.

The City Manager of Mangaung Metro Mr Sello More explained that the actions of the invaders have necessitated the municipality to take urgent steps to resolve the potential stand-off and conflict amongst members of the community.

“Mangaung Metro like any other City established after democracy, inherited a fragmented human settlement characterized by spatial separation of residential areas according to class and race, urban sprawl, disparate levels of service provision and the concentration of the poor in the peripheries.

To address this legacy and future housing backlog; Mangaung undertook to diversify its approach to include mixed developments strategy (Integrated Human Settlements), aimed at transforming spatial housing patterns in the Municipality, by creating more inclusive, denser, mixed‐use urban areas while striving for a more functional housing market that adequately responds to both supply and demand for all levels of affordability and need,” explained More.

According to More, the new approach will resolve matters relating to housing and land, he says it will increase access to socio-economic amenities, rental stock and opportunities in the gap market.

“This approach stems from the Comprehensive Plan for Sustainable Human Settlements, referred to as BNG (‘Breaking New Ground’) and embraces the upgrading of informal settlements. The new human settlements plan reinforces the vision of the Department of Housing, to promote the achievement of a non-racial, integrated society through the development of sustainable human settlements and quality housing,” said the City Manager.

Sello More pointed out that the municipality is faced with three fundamental challenges in addressing the challenge of upgrading informal settlements; they include: Lack of bulk capacity especially for sanitation in regions of Thaba-Nchu and Botshabelo. • Basic services backlog, making it difficult to prioritise informal settlements. • Budgetary constraints to prioritise the upgrading of informal settlements.

More explained that in many areas across the City where the planning processes have been completed and services (being) installed or about to be installed and in some open spaces; people have invaded open land and are continuing to invade which is an act the Municipality is condemning.

The metro has since come up with an approach to resolve the land invasion problem, it includes:

The City’s Department of Planning, Human Settlements & Economic Development is in the process of conducting extensive verification of the households, as part of the continuous programme to quantify the house needs across the municipality.

• The municipality has adopted a three-pronged approach: resettlements, relocations, and evictions. Importantly and where feasible, households (invaders) be resettled in the same areas, • The metro indicates that resettlements of households (land invaders) distort and affect municipal development and budgetary plans as well as the Housing Needs Register/Waiting list, • Households who can afford to buy sites, once this has been determined, be encouraged to do so, •

The municipality engages other landowners e.g., National and Provincial Departments where these are affected or they need to assist, • Land that is earmarked for Catalytic Development Programmes is being fast-tracked, with support of National Treasury CSP, as part of provision of more housing opportunities to communities what is known as “mixed used development”. • In resettling households/people, land earmarked for socioeconomic amenities be spared/avoided (be left open).

“Mangaung Metro like all other cities in South Africa is facing rapid urbanisation challenges, amidst the limitations of its funding. The city is continuously working on finding long term and sustainable solutions to a variety of our urban challenges including land invasions,” concluded City Manager Mr. Sello More.


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