Furore over R20?mln temporary Jika Joe structures

2014-02-17 00:00

MSUNDUZI’S executive committee (Exco) has unveiled the city’s initial plan to eradicate the Jika Joe informal settlement.

The construction of 350 temporary housing units at a cost of R20 million there caused a furore during the Exco meeting on Thursday.

The issue has already caused consternation within the settlement as some residents have threatened to block the N3 to force the municipality to build them permanent structures instead of temporary homes.

DA Exco member councillor Mergan Chetty wanted to know why council was spending so much money on the construction of temporary housing units. “We should be using R20 million to build permanent structures instead of temporary ones,” he said.

Chetty also wanted to know why these temporary structures cost R47 000 per unit.

“This will be another wasteful expenditure,” he added.

ANC Exco member Thulani Xulu also questioned if officials had a contingency plan to prevent a repeat of what happened years ago when RDP houses were built for the Jika Joe residents in the France area. They neglected them and soon moved back to the settlement.

However, deputy municipal manager for corporate services Dr Ray Ngcobo said this was the premier’s project and the municipality would not be paying for it, but they had partnered with the Office of the Premier.

“We have done a comprehensive study on eradicating the slums in the settlement because it cannot be that black people would be allowed to stay in such conditions any longer,” he said.

Ngcobo said the costs were in accordance with provincial government policy on human settlements and these structures would have toilets and electricity, which would help reduce the number of illegal power connections in the area.

“We will also be putting up concrete structures along the river banks to prevent people from building housing there,” said Ngcobo.

“Our challenge is the slumlords who saw us as a threat because we were taking away their profits,” he said.

Msunduzi Municipality manager Mxolisi Nkosi said these structures had to be built to accommodate those whose shacks were gutted by fire in September last year, but also to house those who have to be removed during the construction of permanent structures at the Tatham Sports fields.

“We are now in the advanced stages of creating permanent structures to eradicate the slum area in the Jika Joe informal settlement,” he said.

Nkosi said the temporary structures should be completed in the next three months.

“This was not a wasteful expenditure because … the temporary structures can be dismantled and assembled about five times by professionals.”

He said the municipality would be able to keep the material for use in any emergency in other informal settlements.

But officials could not say when the permanent structures would be built because “studies need to be conducted before the actual work begins”.

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