Monday, December 30, 2013

Valhalla fire victims start to rebuild houses

Cape Town - Rebuilding of the homes of the victims of the Valhalla Park fire disaster began in earnest over the weekend with materials for about 186 structures – 66 on Saturday and 120 yesterday – being allocated to families.

More than 1 500 people were left destitute when a fire ripped through the informal settlement last Monday.

The City of Cape Town and its Disaster Risk Management Centre are overseeing the allocation of building materials and plots and have set about developing the area in line with the Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme.

“We will introduce basic municipal services and redesign the area through urban and social design, to improve the lifestyle of the residents and to eradicate crime,” said the deputy chief of disaster risk management, Wilfred Solomons-Johannes.

He said the new structures, where the four sides were of corrugated iron, were “fire-retardant” and it was hoped this would reduce the risk of fires.

The first phase of allocation ensured that the most vulnerable – the sick and the disabled – received their structures first.

Sanitation, at a ratio of four toilets to 50 people, and water are being provided on site.

Construction work is continuing throughout the day.

Social Development MEC Albert Fritz said the unity shown by all levels of government in dealing with the disaster was a positive sign and that it was a core factor in residents being helped effectively.

“You can see the devastation here . It is encouraging to look at the work local and provincial government have been doing – (with) all levels of government working together,” said Fritz.

He also noted the effectiveness of the disaster plan, formulated by the City of Cape Town some time ago and fast-tracked last Tuesday to provide aid to the families.

He said that it was one of the hallmarks of the relief effort.

“The Department of Social Development was concerned and needed to look at the vulnerability of the children, so we had to fast-track this plan for people with children.”

Besides the materials that were made available to enable the families to start building their new homes, food parcels and medical assistance were provided to those had ailments.

The chairwoman of the subcouncil for the area, Rose Rau, said the Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme involved allowing a much bigger space around each home.

Families would also have the opportunity to become homeowners, she said.

“The families will be entitled to a subsidy and will be able to get the title deed for their home,” explained Rau.

She and Fritz were on hand yesterday to extend their support to workers and volunteers who gave up their holidays to assist with the relief effort.

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