An amount of R9.6m has been set aside to address the housing backlog in the Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM) next year. This was the commitment made to residents during the visit of human settlements, water and sanitation minister, Lindiwe Sisulu.
The minister was in Komani at the Mzingisi Skweyiya hall last week to interact with petitioners over service delivery issues.
Foremost on the agenda was RDP housing delivery which residents felt had come to a halt in the region, a factor which contributed to the practice of illegal land grabs earlier this year at Mlungisi.
Sisulu discouraged the practice, saying those who wanted land should approach her department as government had shifted policy from housing to land allocation.
“Those who want land must come to me. I will give you land. Our new policy is to cut back on the money we use to build houses and we are now going to release land. The condition is that you have to commit that you will build a house or we will take the land back,” said Sisulu.
“We have realised that giving an asset like a house does not always work out because people sell those houses as they have not worked for them. However, if you build your own house there is a sentimental value attached to it and you are more likely to keep it. Also, government resources go much further when we release land and allow people to build on it. We will support them with material for building and technical knowledge,” she added.
According to human settlements Chris Hani regional director, Bongumsa Panda, the national lockdown had contributed to the halting of housing projects across the region.
“In the region, we have a backlog of about 85 000 units. We will need an estimated R30.8bn to completely eradicate it. In each financial year, we are allocated about R200m to deliver housing units in Chris Hani. Currently, we have 45 ongoing projects with about 19 Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) appointed. There are 11 blocked projects which we are planning to address by next year.
“In Enoch Mgijima we have 18 future projects that will include areas like the Sada and Rathwick housing projects. If we were to unlock all these 18 projects a total of 13 737 units could be built which would cost about R2.4bn in Enoch Mgijima alone,” said Panda.
Panda said next year they planned to build 82 units at a cost of R9.6m in the local municipality.
Other concerns raised by residents at the meeting, which was also attended by EMLM mayor Luleka Gubula and EMLM council speaker Bongiwe van Heerden, was the lack of water services which resulted in frequent water cuts in areas like Mlungisi.
“I have been informed that Chris Hani is the water services authority for this region. I will suggest to the mayor (Gubula) to apply to be the services authority so that we can assess and see if they qualify,” said Sisulu.