'They have to move' - Prasa chair wants illegal occupiers off CT train tracks
On Monday, rail agency Prasa issued illegal shack dwellers with a notice to vacate the informal settlements that have been built along the Metrorail tracks on the central line.
A number of informal settlements - spanning from Langa to Khayelitsha - have sprung up along Metrorail's tracks since the Covid-19 lockdown started in March last year.
Prasa, Metrorail's parent company, estimates that 8,000 people are currently living in shacks along the Cape's train tracks.
Prasa board chair Leonard Ramatlakane says moving the illegal occupiers is not going to be an easy task.
Officials have spent the week engaging with community members, persuading them to remove their structures from railway tracks on the central line.
Some occupiers told Ramatlakane that shack sites on the tracks in Langa have been sold for as much as R9,000.
Another woman says she paid R3,000 for her home.
But Ramatlakane says Prasa wants to restore the central line and resume services for train commuters who have been forced to fork out more money for alternative transport.
The chairperson says the rail agency can't provide land or alternative housing for the illegal occupiers.
"They have to go back to where they had been before", he tells CapeTalk host John Maytham.
I've just come from a door-to-door there... knocking doors on these houses, telling them that they have to move and we can't promise them land because we don't own land... They have to go back to where they had been before.Leonard Ramatlakane, Chairperson - Prasa board
The line is compromised. It's basically from Laga right up to Khayelitsha.Leonard Ramatlakane, Chairperson - Prasa board
The estimation of people living there - a number which changes from time to time - is now about 8,000.Leonard Ramatlakane, Chairperson - Prasa board
I must emphasise, they are illegally staying on the rail reserve, and some of them are on top of the rail. They built their shacks on top of the rail and put concrete alongside to show that they see it as a permanent structure. It's unheard of.Leonard Ramatlakane, Chairperson - Prasa board
It basically looks like a racket or organised crime there that is happening as well, in terms of extortion. People are taking other people's money and saying they will give them a piece of land, which is not their land.Leonard Ramatlakane, Chairperson - Prasa board
Listen to the discussion on Afternoon Drive with John Maytham:
Source : Kaylynn Palm/EWN