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Wednesday Oct 31, 2012

Durban property owners face expropriation for new transport network

Several property owners who face losing their homes and businesses as the eThekwini municipality prepares to expropriate their land for Durban's planned Integrated Rapid Public Transport Network have until the end of next year to vacate their homes and businesses.

This is according to some of the property owners, who were served with expropriation notices by the municipality two months ago.

The homeowners learnt that the municipality wanted to seize their properties after reading notices published in local newspapers in August.

Fifty-one properties - including residential, commercial and vacant land, as well as a few government properties - will be expropriated to make way for the city's R25 billion public transport system.

Durban North resident Goolam Hoosen, 62, who owns properties in Sea Cow Lake Road, comprising four factories and an office block, said he had been given a notice by the municipality to stop building because of the expropriation.

Hoosen said he was waiting for municipal officials to come back with an appropriate offer for his property.

"I'll wait and see what the offer is. If it's okay, I'll settle. If not, then I'll protest," he said.

Hoosen told The Mercury in August that he had invested millions in his business and had been building four new factories, a managerial dwelling and offices on the property.

The first phase of the Integrated Rapid Public Transport Network was approved by the city's executive committee in the middle of the year, when news of the planned expropriations was made public.

The project is similar to the Bus Rapid Transit system in Cape Town and Gauteng.

In July, the city's transport unit was granted the authority to negotiate the acquisition of land by private treaty or expropriation.

Construction would begin in March, with the aim that phase one would be up and running by 2016.

Properties destined for expropriation are mainly in areas in the north of the city, such as KwaMashu, Durban North, Newlands and Newlands East. The properties are to be used for bus depots and terminals.

Scelo Mtambo, of KwaMashu's Section E, said he had been told that his family had until the end of next year to identify a suitable location to be moved to by the city.

He said municipal property valuers would evaluate his property before the end of the year.

He was advised by municipal officials also to get independent property valuers to assess his home.

An eThekwini municipal spokesman said the city was aware of the anxiety that expropriation would cause and was available to assist affected persons with the process.

The Mercury

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