WC housing dept in process of securing land for residents living on train tracks

Residents occupying the railway tracks in Cape Town said that they would not move from their homes unless there's alternative land to resettle.

Residents of the Lockdown informal settlement on the railway line. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape Human Settlements Department said that it was in the process of securing alternative land for residents occupying the train tracks on the central line.

The line has been closed since October 2019 and cannot reopen completely as people have formed a large settlement over a section of train tracks.

Residents occupying the railway tracks in Cape Town said that they would not move from their homes unless there's alternative land to resettle.

"The only way I'm going to move from this place is if I get property, so I'm going to wait for property," one resident said.

"We are not working here, we can't afford rent. Government must find a place so that we can move," another resident said.

While the Passenger Railway Agency of South Africa (Prasa) prepared for their court appearance next month to evict the residents, the provincial Human Settlements Department was tasked with finding alternative pockets of land to settle the residents.

The department said that negotiations for the privately-owned properties they'd identified would only commence once approval for the land acquisitions had been granted.

They're also investigating whether some state-owned land could be used.

The department has not committed to any timelines though.

President Cyril Ramaphosa set Prasa the task of reopening the key central line in his 2020 State of the Nation Address and pledged more than R1 billion to help make it happen.

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