Lockdown: Sisulu hits back over criticism of temporary wooden houses for indigent families

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New temporary houses in Wilgespruit, Gauteng.
New temporary houses in Wilgespruit, Gauteng.
Ntwaagae Seleka, News24

Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has hit back at those who criticised her new venture to house people, who are currently living in tents, in temporary wooden structures.

The project has been piloted for 72 families living in tents on a plot in Wilgespruit, Roodeport.

They have resided in the area for more than two years after they were forcefully evicted from a plot they had earlier occupied.

They are expected to move into their new homes soon, of which about 50 structures have been completed.

Sisulu said one of the reasons for the project was to assist homeless people to safely adhere to lockdown regulations and practice safe social distancing.

She added those who criticised the temporary wooden structures should provide alternatives.

READ | Government to build temporary wooden houses in bid to aid physical distancing

"They must look at where these people were living before these structures were built. Nobody cared for them. Now, they care to criticise because we are putting people in better accommodation.

"This is what this government stands for. Those criticising these structures should have come up with better structures."

Sisulu said upon hearing about the plight of the residents, she sold the idea to City of Johannesburg Mayor Geoff Makhubo.

She said she was open to engage with other municipalities in the country.

"It will depend on how [the] local government sphere takes up the idea and invite us to come and help them. We can't impose that on them. This is the way that has worked for us and the way we ought to be going.

"We have the technology and with life moving on, we have to embrace new technologies. The only way to sustain the development of our societies and growth of our cities here is the alternative solution we can use while waiting to house our citizens elsewhere," added Sisulu.

She said it was possible to do things in the shortest possible time while still "making sure that we stick to the standards and provide good quality housing in a possible time".

"We have a way in a South Africa of thinking tomorrow is still another day and postpone things. This is rapid delivery. I am impressed with what we have seen today. They promised 72 units, not only did they build 50 units they also transferred skills to residents here," added Sisulu.

Makhubo promised the City would build RDP houses for the families.

"These are temporary units. We are moving them from tents into a clean habitable place. I am happy with the progress thus far. This is not the first and the last project. We are building others in Alexandra, Diepsloot and in Soweto.

"We have to give our people decent living while they are waiting for RDP houses. These houses will be enough for all families here. We are moving them away from tents to fight the coronavirus and observe physical distancing," he said.

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