Edendale expropriation on the cards

2018-05-18 17:25
Owners holding housing development 'hostage'.

Owners holding housing development 'hostage'. (File)

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Msunduzi is threatening expropriation where housing projects have been stalled by negotiations with property owners who want to charge the City more than the market price for their land.

This was revealed by councillor Eunice Majola-Zondi during the municipality’s 2018/2019 integrated development plan (IDP) and budget Imbizo, which was attended by hundreds of residents from eight wards in Edendale on Thursday.

Majola-Zondi, who chairs the sustainable development and city enterprises portfolio committee, said there is a housing project, either planned or currently being implemented, in every ward in the Greater Edendale region, but some are being delayed by the availability of land.

“We have a challenge of property owners who don’t want to release the land identified for development. We are trying to negotiate with them because it’s not that we want to take their land for free, we want to pay, but the price should be fair,” she said.

She was responding to the communities’ pleas for the municipality to fast track the delivery of housing.

“Unfortunately when people don’t see promised housing projects taking off the ground they often assume that nothing is being done, but often times we are busy negotiating with the property owners.

“The town centre [in Edendale] is one of the projects that is being held up by six property owners who are refusing to sell because they want millions more than what the City can afford to pay,” she said.

Majola-Zondi said one of the ANC’s resolutions is that government should not allow anyone to stall development, so if negotiations fail, Msunduzi will expropriate.

“If we reach a point where we feel that the City and the people who are beneficiaries of the project are being held at ransom because you say the property is yours, then we will take the route of expropriation, with compensation of course,” she said.

Currently there are 255 properties that the municipality is attempting to purchase for housing projects and they are in various stages of negotiations with the owners, but some have been identified for expropriation.

“It’s not a nice thing, but circumstances are forcing us to take that route,” she said.

Majola-Zondi said 306 families have to be relocated to make way for the planned town centre in Edendale. She added that the project for Bhobhonono, also in Edendale, is also being delayed by land owners.

“...These property owners are not only blocking the housing projects but other forms of development ... because we can’t even upgrade the roads and other infrastructure until they have released the land to the City,” she said.

According to the Msunduzi’s IDP document, Section 190 of the Local Authorities Ordinance provides for expropriation of land by the municipality if it is unable to purchase land on reasonable terms through a negotiated process; and it has obtained the express permission of the relevant MEC to expropriate such property.

“The first 63 properties identified for expropriation have followed the whole process and are in the final legal stages of expropriation,” reads the document.

Msunduzi has approximately 20 informal settlements, the majority of which need urgent intervention, including relocation.

There are 40 housing projects under way around the City and while 25 657 houses have already been built at least 4 399 still have to be constructed.

Mayor Themba Njilo said more than a dozen new housing projects have been allocated funding in the budget for the 2018/2019 financial year, which commences in July. Some of the projects he highlighted include R11,2 million for KwaPata, R7 million for Unit Q in Dambuza as well as R4 million for Azalea.

The IDP and budget public consultation process in different wards runs until next week. On Friday the municipality had plans to engage with those living in the CBD at the city hall and on Saturday the delegation is set to visit Ntombela Hall where they will unpack key projects planned for Vulindlela.

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