Armed residents halt housing project
CHAOS erupted in Chatty, Port Elizabeth, yesterday as two groups of angry residents pelted each other with stones and threatened each other with sticks and pangas over the stalling of a multi-million rand housing project.
The groups are at loggerheads over a R40-million housing project, now in phase one and two.
One faction, calling themselves Concerned Residents, allegedly brought the project to a standstill earlier this week because workers were brought from outside their area to work on the development.
Equipment worth R25-million belonging to Masakeni Construction was removed from the site yesterday as the company feared residents would vandalise it.
Up until then, a group of residents not aligned to the Concerned Residents – mostly women – had camped outside the construction site, keeping an eye on the equipment.
Meanwhile inside the construction office, residents’ representatives met with the construction management under the watchful eye of police.
The Ward 42 ANC branch deputy secretary, who asked not be named, said there had been threats to assassinate development forum and ANC members.
“As members of the community of Chatty, Joe Slovo and Westville, we are here to defend our project. We support the reopening of the project without any intimidation and threats. We will not be threatened by a group of tsotsis’s carrying pangas but claiming to be leaders,” he said.
“This project has to continue so that 8,553 people should have access to housing. The company has decided to remove their machinery until everything is back to normal. No one will be retrenched because of this situation.”
As they left the site a group of Concerned Residents carrying pangas, sticks and stones emerged from the bushes. Both groups threw stones at each other as scattered.
The police officers managed to calm the situation and keep the two groups apart.
Luvuyo Maneli, a Concerned Residents representative, said they came armed as they thought the other group was fighting with them.
“We want the project to be closed for now because it was never introduced to the community members. Also people are not satisfied with the fact that they hired people from Slovo whereas there are people of Chatty who are also unemployed. All we are calling for is transparency when it comes to this project,” he said.
Vusi Rapiya, a consultant contracted to the municipality, said the chaos started on Monday as Concerned Residents demanded that the site should be closed.
“Apparently they vowed to close all the projects in ward 41. This is the same project that will provide infrastructure services to 1,720 sites. It started in July with the first and second phase and it is supposed to be completed by July next year.
“At the moment the site has been closed as the contract manager does not feel safe. They have also taken all the machinery to other sites. We will call a community meeting to try and come up with the solution to this problem so that the project can continue,” he said.