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MEC mulls ways to curb overcrowding in informal settlements

Yesterday, 25 shacks were destroyed when a blaze ripped through Alexandra in northern Johannesburg.

FILE: Imizamo Yethu residents guard what's left of their belongings after a fire tore through the settlement. Picture: Natalie Malgas/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - In the wake of devastating blazes in Johannesburg this week, Gauteng Human Settlement MEC Jacob Mamabolo said overcrowding in townships needs to be addressed urgently.

Yesterday, 25 shacks were destroyed when a blaze ripped through Alexandra in northern Johannesburg, affecting more than 50 families.

#ER24 #paramedics, along with #Fire Services, are on scene at the informal settlement #fire in #Alexandra. pic.twitter.com/FX7m3GqI8y

Earlier this week, hundreds more shacks were destroyed in a fire in Kya Sand.

Local Government says its resources have been put under severe constrain this week but it has applauded rescue workers and NGOs for assisting the displaced.

Mamabolo said he will be meeting with the Johannesburg mayoral committee to discuss overcrowding in informal settlements.

"We'll have to come with a plan in the short-term of how to rearrange and to reorganise the current densities in the informal settlements, particularly those that are heavily crowded."

He says informal settlements need to be reorganised and made more accessible to emergency services in order to prevent one shack fire from destroying scores of homes.

"Most of the overpopulated informal settlements are in the City of Johannesburg but they are not the only ones. Those types of informal settlements need urgent attention on how to either relocate, reorganise people and how can we make sure that this issue of fire doesn't repeat itself."

KYA SAND FIRE AFTERMATH

The Department of Social Development set up alternative accommodation for destitute Kya Sand residents in Johannesburg.

Thousands of people were left homeless when a blaze gutted hundreds of shacks in the Msawawa informal settlement on Wednesday.

MEC Molebatsi Bopape said the marquee will be fully stocked.

"You can't just have a marquee, there needs to be mattresses, food, electricity and water."

Meanwhile, Gift of the Givers' Saadiq Naatha said they will remain in Msawawa to provide food and blankets to those affected by the blaze.

"We looked at all the peripheral items we could provide such as diapers for the children."

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