Drama as new “road” causes a rift between communities

On the stretch of road in question, Ward 33 councillor Ashley Hoods (right) pleads with the Driefontein community leaders to attend a meeting that was scheduled to be held at the civic centre on January 26.

A newly constructed road connecting Delmore Gardens and Driefontein informal settlement, popularly known as Kwa-Gumede, has sparked tension between the two communities, which had lived peacefully side by side for almost two decades.

According to one of the community leaders, Goodman Biyela, the road linking the communities, which are about a kilometre apart, was constructed early last month after they approached the municipality and asked for a new safe road to be constructed.

This, however, didn’t sit well with the Delmore Gardens community who claims that they were not consulted beforehand.

Residents of Driefontein said the kilometre-long stretch of road means a lot to them because, for years, they have been using unsafe pathways to get to the Delmore Gardens area where they normally do shopping, get transport to go to work and transport for school children.

“Countless people have been robbed, sexually assaulted and others killed while walking along these pathways snaking through the bushes to Commissioner Street.

“We saw fit to ask the municipality to create this safe road which also links both communities,” said Biyela.

This newly constructed road has become a serious bone of contention between the two communities. The Delmore Gardens residents want the road closed, but the community of Driefontein informal settlement say that cannot happen because it is the only safe road the community use to get to the Delmore Gardens area where they normally do shopping, get transport to go to work and transport for school children.

On the other hand, furious residents of Delmore Gardens want the metro to close the dirt road which they say has a negative impact on their properties and residents’ safety.

One resident, Desiree Tombeen, said the increased number of people walking past their driveways has increased exposure to robberies and hijackings.

“This road was constructed unlawfully. The residents are taxpayers and were not informed about the plan.

“We now have to endure the choking clouds of dust that cars stir up and our houses are being devalued.

“This is uncalled for,” said Tombeen.

  • Councillor’s reaction

The Ward 33 councillor, Ashley Hoods, who is now trying to mediate the disputes between the neighbouring communities, said he became aware of the road, which had the potential to cause animosity between the two communities when he received a complaint after it was constructed.

“I’m trying to keep the peace between the parties involved but the Driefontein residents are uncooperative, resulting in planned meetings among those involved being delayed.”

Biyela, however, refuted Hoods’ claims that the Driefontein residents have refused to meet with the community of Delmore Gardens, saying all they have asked the councillor was that the meeting should be held on-site (where the road was constructed), instead of going to meet at the civic centre or in Delmore Gardens.

“I think it was absolutely wrong for the roads department to construct the road without engaging all stakeholders – including me as a ward councillor,” Hoods said.

“However, I’m still trying to get all the parties involved around the table to resolve the problem.”

The Advertiser has requested comment from the Ekurhuleni metro. [email protected]

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  AUTHOR
Fanie Mthupha
Journalist

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