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The City of Johannesburg is finalising arrangements to relocate Kya Sands informal settlement residents after a fire destroyed over 1000 shacks in the area earlier this month.

This is after the City established during a risk assessment of the area that the informal settlement is located on a high risk area for flooding and raging fires.

The relocation announcement was made by Johannesburg Executive Mayor Parks Tau following his visit in the area shortly after some 4 000 people were displaced by the recent fire.

“The informal settlement is located on a privately owned land and the biggest challenge we have is that majority of the residents do not qualify for the government social housing programme because the South African housing policy does not have a provision for immigrants in this regard,” Mayor Tau said.

“However, we have been assisting the residents with building materials to temporary rebuild their homes while we finalise relocation plans to a nearby land that is safer. Blankets were donated and meals prepared for the residents as they rebuilt their homes,” he said.

“We have also been conducting awareness campaigns in the area even before the recent fire to educate people on how to prevent tragic fires in the community. We continue to appeal to people to leave spaces in between their shacks when they build them to avoid fires spreading from one home to all those linked to it,” he said.

The Mayor further expressed gratitude to residents and organisations who joined hands to offer aid to the community of Kya Sands in donations of more food supplies, clothes and blankets. Some displaced community members were also offered emergency shelter by the nearby Juda Africa Church which indicated that it would house all the affected families until they were in a position to rebuild their homes.

“It was heartwarming to see residents, non-governmental organisations and the city’s various entities and departments working together to help the Kya Sands community. We need to maintain this kind of partnership in building safe and sustainable communities in our city,” the Mayor said.

The land where the Kya Sands informal settlement is located was invaded in 1998 as a result of retrenchments of workers by construction companies that completed work within the north western parts of Region A.

Due to unfeasible control measures, more people settled on the land as they looked for employment opportunities in the surrounding industrial areas.