Housing protests shut N2

VIOLENCE, riots and chaos were the order of the day when frustrated Breidbach residents demanded houses and barricaded the N2 between East London and King William’s Town on Thursday last week.

The road was forced closed to traffic from 5am till the afternoon last week after protesters barricaded the notorious Breidbach intersection with burning tyres, huge stones, trees and other objects.
This resulted in the closing of the N2 at Hargreaves traffic circle and the Blainey junction near Berlin.

Trees, large rocks, and other objects were used to barricade the N2 between EL and KWT during protests on Thursday. Picture: DESMOND COETZEE

A resident leading the protest, and who wanted to remain anonymous, said the community was fed-up with the government which was “taking them for granted”.
“We had a meeting last evening after we noticed that they had not stuck to their promise of starting the housing project even after they told us the trucks with the building material would enter Breidbach on June 20,” he said.

“We will not stop with this action until they start the project.”

Another protester said: “We want service delivery. They have been lying to us for too long.”

King Police Station commissioner Colonel Nomvuyo Mrwebi and BCM human settlements regional director, Mthobeli Mbambanisi, addressed the protesters on the bridge in an attempt to bring the protest to a halt.

EC Provincial Legislature members Christian Martin and Tony Duba also arrived in a bid to quell the tense situation.

During negotiations, it was agreed that the Human Settlements MEC for Human Settlements would address the community.  A community meeting with the MEC and top officials of human settlements, that was chaired by Martin, took place on Friday last week.

Issues discussed were the contractor, the elected PSC members, how local labour would benefit from the project, the alleged “rudeness” of human settlements officials, and the conduct of the ward councillor. The community took exception when it was said that only 80 houses would be built.


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