Drastic drop in housing delivery

2014-06-23 00:00

WHILE municipal officials were busy destroying hundreds of shacks over the weekend, the eThekwini metro has come under fire following reports that its housing department is to reach only half of its building target in 2014/15.

DA MPL George Mari said the housing delivery in eThekwini metro has reached new crisis levels in the light of the new 8 500 low-cost houses to be built this financial year.

“Seven years ago, there was an output of 16 000 units per annum. The DA is appalled by the drastic drop in delivery,” Mari said.

He said the metro has a housing backlog of about 400 000.

Over the weekend, the eThekwini Municipality’s Land Invasion Unit destroyed nearly 200 shacks in Cato Crest and in Lamontville, Abahlali Basemjondolo Movement spokesperson Sb’u Zikode said yesterday.

Zikode said the “illegal demolishments” involved 80 shacks in Cato Crest on Saturday, another 60 were destroyed there early yesterday morning, while some 50 more were knocked-down in Madlala Village, Lamontville.

Building houses is going to take a little longer. According to Mari, given the city’s current rate of delivery, it will take 50 years to clear the housing backlog.

“Despite the enormity of the problem, municipal housing officials continue to reduce annual housing delivery targets. In spite of this, the housing department only achieved 30% of its reduced target two years ago,” he said.

Mari said various interventions were needed to urgently address the housing situation in the metro.

Mayor James Nxumalo said the allocation for this financial year allowed for delivery of 8 500 new houses. “With resources permitting, our aim is to increase that number by the end of the financial year. Hence, we welcome national government’s decision to accredit metros to be able to deliver housing without having to await approvals from the provincial government.”

The number of houses to be built is expected to increase four-fold, according to Nxumalo, meaning 32 000 units will be built in 2016/17.

He previously said the challenge and shortage of land made it the municipality’s priority to promote higher density housing development projects.

“Our main focus in terms of housing delivery is the eradication of transit camps and the slums clearance,” Nxumalo said.

The municipality has set aside R2,3 billion for low-cost housing and infrastructure development in this financial year.

A total of R210 million will be spent on the upgrade of the hostels.

The demolition crackdown in Cato Crest is the latest development in a long-standing problem between shack-dwellers of mostly Eastern Cape origin, who claim to be excluded from the city’s normal development processes, and the municipality, which claims to be trying to prevent illegal land invasions.

There were sporadic protests by the shack-dwellers in Cato Crest over the weekend, but these were dispersed by police using tear gas, said Cato Crest resident and Abahlali Basemjondolo secretary-general Ndabo Nzimela.

He said when they asked for a court order allowing for the demolitions, none was produced.

Zikode described the latest crackdown as extraordinary, especially considering a Constitutional Court judgment made against the municipality earlier this month involving earlier Cato Crest evictions.

The case involved an order used by the municipality to justify Cato Crest evictions in 2013.

Democratic Alliance shadow Human Settlements MEC Hlanganani Gumbi said he wanted Saturday night’s “shady” evictions at Cato Crest to be put at the top of the municipality’s human settlements committee’s agenda this week.

“Myself and DA eThekwini caucus leader Zwakele Mncwango have just been to inspect the area and it is clear the municipality showed complete disregard for the little belongings that people have during the eviction process, and have not accommodated their right to temporary relief shelter,” said Gumbi.

He said the municipality should by now be well aware of the law around evictions and that temporary relief accommodation should have been provided for the people to go to.

Gumbi said he had submitted questions to MEC Ravi Pillay surrounding the recent cases of illegal evictions that eThekwini municipality was embroiled in and had requested a schedule of planned evictions for the next two years.

Municipal spokesperson Thabo Mofokeng could not be reached for comment yesterday.

SA Police Service spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker said about 200 community members had blockaded Bellair Road in Mayville with burning tyres and rubble yesterday.

“The situation was tense … the community members were ordered to disperse and they complied with the instruction. No arrests or injuries were reported,” the police said.

V Mayor James Nxumalo

“Our main focus in terms of housing

delivery is the eradication of transit camps and the slums clearance.”

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