Phola Park Canal – Project Stalled

Phola Park Canal

The Phola Park Informal Settlement is located on Sheffield Road, Philippi East. It lies across from the informal settlement of Never-Never, the formal settlement of Marcus Garvey and just across from the community hall and sports facility. To the south of the settlement is Sheffield Road. An open storm water canal and the Golden Arrow Bus Depot on the eastern side border it. The formal settlement of Phola Park (Better Life), with RDP houses, borders the settlement on the western side, with Rochester Road to the north. The settlement falls under Ward 88 and Subcouncil 13.The settlement is located on predominantly sandy soil with a high water table, making it prone to flooding when there is inadequate infrastructure to drain heavy winter rains away. There is very little vegetation inside the settlement. The official household figure according to the City of Cape Town (CoCT) records is 996 households. According to the community’s count, an estimated 3 500 people currently live in Phola Park. The estimated density figure from the CoCT is 237 households per hectare. The density in this settlement is considered ‘high density’ compared to other informal settlements in Philippi.

The partnership between PEP and the Phola Park community was formed during the NUSP programme. When the city approached PEP looking for “quick win” solutions it was recommended, in consultation with the community, that the open drainage channel in Phola Park be upgraded.

The channel was filthy, a sever health risk and exacerbated flooding in the area. In early 2016 the city upgraded the channel creating a paved walkway surrounded by trees and plants that is now being used as a public space by the community, especially children who now have a place where they can safely play. The mayor officially opened the upgraded channel on Thursday 14th April. See photos below.

The Phola Park community and PEP see the canal as only the first step in incrementally upgrading the settlement. To this end PEP has started an intensive engagement process with the community in order to develop a long term upgrading plan, interspersed with incremental goals. The end goal is affordable and adequate housing for all members of Phola Park. Interestingly there seems to be an acceptance by the community that in order to achieve housing for all they will have to develop medium to high-density multi-story housing typologies. This presents a unique opportunity for the community, in partnership with PEP and the city to set a high density housing precedent. More news to follow soon !

Subsequent to the construction of the canal PEP worked tirelessly with the community to attempt to co-produce an upgrading plan for the settlement. Due to the political impact of the canal launch (which was attended by the mayor) the community have chosen to negotiate directly with the city in order to advocate for their most pressing demand – housing. To date no houses have been built in Phola Park nor do concrete plans exist for their construction. PEP stand ready to support the community if they choose to engage us around a incremental upgrading process.