People dig out Cape Town bridge to build shelters

City says Potsdam Road bridge is okay but the households will be relocated

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Wonga Booi, unable to afford rent where he was living, excavated along the Potsdam Bridge embankment to create space to build a shack. Photos: Peter Luhanga.

Mbuyiselo Pama says he can feel the ground shake whenever a truck goes over the Potsdam Road bridge. He lives in a two-room shack with his wife and three children under the bridge, where there are now 225 households.

Some have dug into the embankment, exposing the bridge’s buttresses. GroundUp reported on the situation in 2021.

The bridge links Winning Way Industrial Park, Dunoon, Killarney Gardens, Montague Gardens and Table View.

Pama arrived from Johannesburg in 2015. He rented a shack in Dunoon’s Siyahlala informal settlement but was unable to keep up with the rent.

He says the noise from traffic never lets up. “The living here is bad. There is no quality of life, but we are scared and cannot go anywhere,” he says.

There is no piped water, sanitation or electricity.

His neighbour, Wonga Booi, dug a space out of the embankment to create a level area for his single-room shack. He worries that a car veering off the bridge “could end up right on top of my roof”.

“We live with the constant fear that an accident could occur at any moment,” he said.

Pama said City officials came to number the shacks in September and told them they must relocate. But there was no offer of land for them to move to.

City spokesperson Unathi Kondile said people might be assisted with building materials, but no decision has been made.

“The City will communicate on timelines [for relocation] once the land has been identified and all due process has been followed,” he said.

Mayco member for urban mobility Rob Quintas said a recent engineering inspection confirmed the structural integrity of the bridge.

People have erected shacks beneath the Dunoon bridge

TOPICS:  Housing

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