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    City called to speed up housing delivery

    WHILE the eThekwini Municipality’s claims to be committed to restoring the dignity of those who live informally, its ability to “move with speed” and deliver on that promise has come into question.The Cornubia Housing Project was a joint venture between the eThekwini Municipality and the Tongaat Hullet Group Picture: Kopano Tlape GCISIn the 2020/21 financial year, the municipality’s target for houses built was 4 072 units, and a budget of R1.16 billion was allocated to achieve that goal.More than R905 000 was spent on housing for that term.However, only 1 737 houses were built in that period.04022019 (Durban) An arieal shot of Zamani Transit Camp, in Umlazi, which is adjacent to the local wastewater works treatment plant.Picture: African News Agency (ANA)/ArchivesWhen responding to questions from the Sunday Tribune about its low housing output and significant higher spend for the term in question, the city maintained that it was proud of its efforts in restoring the dignity of previously disadvantaged people.Durban is home to the sun, sea and shacks. This informal settlement in Isipingo, south of Durban, is one among many such dwellings in the eThekwini Region . Picture: Khaya Ngwenya/African News Agency (ANA)But, no explanation was offered for the disproportionate costs incurred for the number of units it delivered.120715:The Kennedy Road Informal Settlement in Clare EstateWhy nearly 80% of the housing budget allocated to the city’s human settlements department for the said period was spent, but were only able to raise a little over 40% of the intended target, was the question the DA initially put to the municipal Speaker.Councillor Zamani Khuzwayo, the DA’s whip for human settlements, took exception to the “slow pace of housing delivery in eThekwini”.He also raised that since 2017, the city had only delivered 7 539 title deeds.“The municipality claims the average title deed costs R1 200 to deliver, but their actual budget spent shows that these title deeds cost a staggering R18 000 per title deed.“Many of the title deed hand-overs are accompanied by flashy events that drive up the costs,” Khuzwayo complained.He said title deeds not only granted residents security and dignity, but also financial capability to leverage their assets and improve their lives.“Tens of thousands of eThekwini residents could have benefited if the title deed programme was effectively run.“The same problem has arisen with the delivery of actual houses,” he said.Khuzwayo said the statistics painted a clear picture that the municipality was “spending money at a rate of knots, but failing to deliver on key targets, which is unacceptable”.Mdu Nkosi, the IFP’s representative of the city’s executive committee, accused the municipality of failing the people of eThekwini.“When I joined the council in 2006, as many as 15 000 houses were built per annum.“It has dropped drastically. It means there is no longer focus and priority to build houses,” he said.Nkosi believes things went “pear-shaped” with housing when the municipality started building transit camps.“They spent money on the camps and neglected to deliver houses at a similar rate thereafter,” he said.Nkosi claimed that houses built since 2008 were falling apart, yet the ones built in the 1960’s and 70’s were still standing.“Go to places like uMlazi, you will see they are still holding up well.“There is no vision anymore. You can’t have a budget over a R1bn, and you are failing to deliver.“Land is available. Buildings that are dilapidated need to be bought and turned into homes. In areas controlled by the Amakhosi, private land can be purchased for houses,” he said.Given these options, Nkosi questioned why the City had allowed people to continue living in informal settlements for decades and endure lengthy stays in transit camps.“Go into Ntuzuma, and you will find people living in transit camps since 2014,” he said.He also pointed out that people living in a transit camp near the King Zwelithini Stadium in uMlazi were there for a long time.“It cannot be acceptable,” he said.Msawakhe Mayisela, the municipality’s spokesperson, said: “The city is very proud of the strides it has made thus far in restoring the dignity of those who were disregarded by the apartheid policies.“However, there are circumstances that may impede us from moving with the speed that we would want to move with, one of them being the shortage of land to build.“Everyone is fully aware that our city has land shortages, and we are now even going as far as negotiating procurement of pockets of land in the areas under the Amakhosi.“As a result, the scarcity of land has the potential to slow our pace,“ he said.Mayisela said land invasions were compounding their woes at an alarming rate.“In certain instances, we find ourselves entangled in complicated litigations in trying to legally evict those who invade land, which has a negative impact on the pace at which we are expected to move with, because of the long period of time required to conclude legal processes,” he said.Mayisela said it was incorrect to say that the houses they were building were of poor quality.“We challenge anyone to go to our housing projects and show us houses of poor quality.“We went as far as embarking on a campaign to demolish houses that were shoddily built during the early days of our democratic dispensation,” he said.Mayisela said such action clearly demonstrated their commitment to building quality houses.“Yes, we do acknowledge that we have transit camps. However, we are very proud of the speed we are moving to eradicate them, and by moving those who were residing in these camps to new houses.“There are numerous factors that may contribute to people living in camps longer than we were planning,” he said.Mayisela explained another challenge emerged when certain housing programmes had to be stalled because of groupings calling themselves business forums.“However, we have since cleared this hurdle.“Like any other city, we have the challenge of scores of people flocking for economic opportunities, which results in us being stretched to our limits regarding housing provision. We continue to do everything in our power to ensure that our residents have decent roofs over their heads,” assured Mayisela.SUNDAY TRIBUNE

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