Then there was light at Jim se bos

A long awaited dream has come true for residents of Jim se Bos.

The City of Cape Town has started on the infrastructure necessary to electrify Jim se Bos informal settlement on the corner of Olieboom and Schaap roads in Schaapkraal.

Residents, who had been living at the informal settlement for more than 20 years, were unable to get services from the City of Cape Town as it is located on private land and because of national legislation, they had to make do with illegal electricity connections.

The development comes after permission was granted by the owner Shaik “Abe” Parker who bought the land more than 30 years ago. Previously toilets and taps for access to water were installed but on the perimeter of the informal settlement or land.

The legislation states that permanent electricity services cannot be installed in cases where, for instance, residents live under power lines or on railway or road reserves, or where the land is uninhabitable such as settlements formed on wetlands, floodplains or other water bodies where residents have settled on privately-owned land or where no permission exists for the City to install such basic services.

Jim se bos committee member David Rads, who has lived there for 20 years, said the access to electricity was a relief.

“We have waited a very long time for this. We have had to make fires, use lamps and paraffin, which were dangerous and we have had to make illegal connections. It was difficult but we, along with Mr Parker, fought and we got it right and our people are also being employed for the project. We are over the moon,” said Mr Rads.

The first phase of the electrification project will connect 450 homes to the electricity grid. Further surveys will be undertaken to determine the number of households that will benefit from the second phase.

The first phase of the
R2.8 million project is expected to be completed by the end of March, if all goes according to plan.

The City’s Mayco member for energy and climate change, Phindile Maxiti thanked the community for working with the City to ensure that this phase was completed in the shortest possible time.

“Access to electricity, where it is possible to install, is a game-changer especially for the most vulnerable in our society. It enables economic growth and allows small home-based businesses to operate more efficiently. It enhances safety, reduces the risk of fires, promotes better public health and also creates an improved environment for learners to achieve better academic results since they no longer have to use candle light to do homework and study for exams,” he said.

Mr Parker said the moment was bitter sweet.

“I am happy that the people of Jim se Bos are getting services but I am sad because I am footed with a bill from the City for fires at the settlement. I want this bill to be scrapped. I am for the people and I will not evict them or charge them for living on my property.

“The City has offered to buy the land but at half the municipal value. If the City wants the land for the people I am willing to sell it, but at a fair offer from the City because that is supposed to be my pension money,” said Mr Parker.