Durban gives Clairwood property owners more say on proposed port
With just two weeks left for about 7 000 Clairwood residents to submit comments and complaints about the multibillion-rand back of port plan, the eThekwini Municipality has opened the door for further comments on the controversial idea.
The city announced yesterday that a forum would be formed involving all the roleplayers to further discuss issues and concerns surrounding the hotly contested R250-billion plan.
However, it was not clear whether the establishment of the forum would supersede other consultation processes, including the November 21 deadline set by the city for residents to lodge their complaints.
During a media briefing at the Moses Mabhida Stadium yesterday deputy city manager, Sipho Cele, said the city had earlier held a "fruitful" meeting with various ratepayer organisations and other civil bodies from the South Durban Basin.
During the meeting it was resolved that a multi-stakeholders development forum would be constituted to iron out concerns.
The forum would comprise city and Transnet officials, and representatives from the community.
The port plan, which has been met with outrage by various communities around Durban, looks at reorganising and rezoning areas in and around the industrial South Durban Basin.
Clairwood residents will be affected the most and despite the municipality seeking to allay fears of forced removal, the community is concerned that it may be moved.
The city has attempted to hold several meetings with aggrieved communities, but they have not yielded much as most of them had to be called off after disruptions by some community members.
Cele said city manager, Sibusiso Sithole, and other officials had yesterday met ratepayer organisations and civil bodies where various concerns including housing of informal residents, deterioration of suburbs owing to illegal trucking businesses and the decrease in property value were raised.
Sithole confirmed the city's commitment to open engagement and assured stakeholders that the city was not oblivious to the issues and grievances of the community.
He also stressed that people needed to engage the city constructively to find solutions and that any development could not happen in isolation, without community participation.
The city, said Sithole, had a responsibility to balance social and economic needs.
Desmond D'Sa, of the South Durban Community and Environmental Alliance and the newly formed "Act Now against the South Durban Port Expansion" campaign, welcomed the formation of the forum, saying it was long overdue.
"We believe this initiative is the right way of going about these contentious issues," he said, adding that the organisation was willing to work with the city for economic development.
D'Sa, who attended the meeting with Sithole, said the community would nominate at least five people to represent it on the forum.
He said that at the meeting the city had agreed to draft new terms of reference, which would be available within three weeks.
The formation of the forum, said D'Sa, would supersede everything else, including the November 21 deadline.
"People have been sending in their comments, but we believe that this forum will open more lines of communication between the city and the residents of Clairwood," he said.
All Cele would say about the deadline date was that the city was willing to engage with residents.
Soobs Moonsamy, the head of the municipality's development planning, environment and management unit stressed that residents would not be forcibly removed from their homes.
She said contrary to popular belief, research conducted had indicated that property values in the area would increase based on enhanced zoning from residential to logistics.
She said the plan had an overall positive impact on property values.
Municipal chief whip, Stanley Xulu, said residents should not panic because the process was still in its consultancy phase and nothing had been implemented.