metro saves shacks

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TWO-MONTH-OLD Khanyalihle Mdaliso has had a wet and uncomfortable introduction to the world as the home she shares with her parents and two siblings is damp from excessive rains this summer.

"The water comes in through the door and from under the ground. I'm glad that the municipality is helping us," said Makhosazana Mdaliso from Palmridge near Alberton, Ekurhuleni.

Mdaliso said that most of their furniture, clothes and blankets have been soaked.

While her husband was at work and nine and seven-year-old sons were at school, Mdaliso prepared to be relocated to drier land by municipal officials yesterday.

Ekurhuleni officials were busy the whole day making sure that shacks were dismantled, loaded onto trucks and taken over the flood plain about 500m away.

The rains have devastated about 300 households - about 2000 men, women and children. Tents have been pitched to house those who have been moved. Once they are settled, they will be allowed to rebuild their shacks.

Zweli Dlamini, the Ekurhuleni metro spokesperson, said all the people will be allocated stands on which new houses will be built for them. This will happen once the infrastructure has been laid out.

In Benoni, 70 households at the Beachfront informal settlement near Wattville will also be moved to higher ground because of flooding.

In KwaThema, one hostel's roof caved in on Wednesday after the heavy rains. Dlamini said they were looking into how the people there would be helped.

Back in Palmridge yesterday, Meshack Shandu was a happy man. "I have been here since 1999 and every rainy season it gets like this. But this year is the worst we have experienced. Our local councillors have been saying that there is nothing they can do," said Shandu.

Dlamini said: "This is where we can bring proper development to the people. We will not stop, even in the rains, until everyone is moved from here. We cannot guard this place around the clock so we need the community to ensure that people do not reoccupy this area."

He said families were given blankets and food parcels that would last up to three weeks. The relocation will cost about R2million.