Protesting residents block road

Mhlaba Memela

Peak hour traffic came to a standstill after Siyanda informal settlement residents, north of Durban, barricaded Malandele Road with rocks, poles and burning tyres.

The residents jammedthe main road linking KwaMashu, Newlands and the city centre at about 6am. Police were then called in to help control the traffic and monitor the situation.

It took about five hours for the road to be cleared for traffic to flow normally as the protesters - led by shack dweller movement Abahlali Basemjondolo - marched to deliver a memorandum to the officials of the department of local government, housing and traditional affairs at the area's Metro police.

The residents were complaining about the construction of the MR577 road, saying it had isolated them and was preventing further development.

The road was built to reduce traffic congestion.

The residents also demanded better housing, saying that 1500 families stay in shacks and 45 stay in government tin houses.

Abahlali Basemjondolo local chairperson Nomusa Nxumalo said they have been trying unsuccessfully to get the government to provide services to the area.

"We demand houses, water, electricity, toilets for the people of Siyanda," said Nxumalo. "We do not want these tin houses that the government is providing for people who were moved during the road construction.

"The road is being fenced now and it will prevent our children from walking across to nearby schools. We cannot allow a fence along this road without a bridge being constructed."

Housing department spokesperson Mthatheni Mabaso said they would respond to the memorandum after studying its contents. He said the government is doing its utmost to deliver houses to people.

"We have built more than 500000 houses in the province and we hope to address the community's concerns on service delivery," Mabaso said.