Residents Told To Put Their House In Order


Cato Crest residents have been told that to pave the way for development, they must ensure a stable and effective leadership, resolve the site size issue and stop crime.

In order for the development of Cato Crest to happen, it is crucial that the stakeholders, including the Development Committee, the residents, the CMDA, the Durban Metro and developers, work hand in hand. If this can be achieved, and if the issue of site sizes can be resolved and spiralling crime can be brought under control, then the process of developing Cato Crest would start rolling in the new year.

This was the message from Durban Metro Mayor, Obed Mlaba, who addressed a gathering of about 1 000 Cato Crest residents at a mass meeting on Sunday, December 14. The residents turned up in numbers, despite the rain, to find out why there had been no progress on the planned upgrading of the settlement.

Mayor Mlaba said that Cato Manor would be a priority in the Metro Council's programme of action for 1998, and that the development process would start rolling again early in the New Year.

However Mlaba gave the residents something to think about when he said: "If you are serious about development, you must ensure that you rid the area of violence and crime first."

Reports had filtered to the Mayor's office that crime was rife in Cato Crest, and that three contractors working in the area had been robbed in broad daylight in one week. As a result some contractors had abandoned their projects.

The mayor said he would be forming a special Working Group to look into the problems in Cato Crest. It would include the CMDA, Metro and local councillors, and local leadership from community structures in Cato Crest. He said the Working Group should be up and running by February, and that he would report back to the community of Cato Crest during the same month.

Despite the ecstatic round of applause that greeted the mayor when he concluded his speech, some residents pointed out that Minister Jacob Zuma addressed a similar meeting a year ago but there were no results.

However their fears were allayed when they were informed by Mayor Mlaba that the development of Cato Manor was now the responsibility of the Metro Council, and that the CMDA would be acting as the agent of the Metro. Residents were also told that provincial government was about to designate Cato Crest as a less formal township, which would remove one of the impediments to development.

The Deputy Chairman of the CMDA, Willies Mchunu, said that development in Cato Crest had been delayed because of the ineffectiveness of the previous Development Committee, violence and crime, the lack of communication between the leaders and the people, and the lack of agreement over site sizes.

In reply to a question about how many households could be accommodated in Cato Crest, Willies said that it depended upon site sizes. He said that the bigger the site size, the less households could be accommodated. At the recommended site size of 120 square metres, he said that most of the households currently in Cato Crest could be accommodated. Those people who wanted bigger sites should purchase them elsewhere, he said.

Meanwhile in a formal response to the memorandum handed to the Metro Council by the Cato Crest Development Forum in November, the CMDA and Metro also addressed the issue of site sizes.

"Of the current 3 200 households in Cato Crest, only 1630 could be accommodated if we were to develop at the 180 square metre plot sizes as demanded by the community. This means that 1570 of the households currently in Cato Crest would have to leave. Where would they go?

"The smaller plot size (120 square metres) is proposed because we do not believe it is feasible to displace so many families, and because we know that decent housing can be built at this density."

Regarding the demand by the community to start building houses in Cato Crest by February, the Metro and CMDA say this is now impossible. If the issue of sites was successfully resolved by Christmas, it would take roughly five months to complete detailed planning and design, and to appoint contractors before construction of services would begin. That means it would be possible to start with Phase One of the project in June 1998.

However this could only become a reality if the leadership issue within Cato Crest was resolved, and if the crime that is currently affecting the construction work happening near Bellair Road could be stopped.

December 1997

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