Collective effort can end housing backlog

FEW weeks ago Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Lindiwe Sisulu, with the Johannesburg mayor, Geoff Makhubo, visited Plot 323 in Roodepoort to break ground for the construction of 70 temporary residential units for the Ikemeleng community.

The community members are victims of farm evictions and have been living in tented settlement for more than four years.

On Sunday, Sisulu, accompanied by the provincial leadership; MEC of Human Settlements, Urban Planning, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Lebogang Maile; Makhubo and two Chapter 9 institutions, the Office of the Public Protector, represented by advocate Busi Mkhwebane and the Human Rights Commission represented by advocate Mohamed Ameermia, returned to the area to hand over the completed units.

The project was completed within a short time, mainly because alternative building technology (ABT) was used. The use of ABT is yet to be embraced by everyone in society as most prefer traditional brick and mortar structures. It should become the norm. Over the past few years, the government has changed the lives and restored the dignity of our people through human settlements. More than 4 million houses and housing opportunities.

Strides have also been made to build new cities such as Cosmo City, Fleurhof and Cornubia. We are proud of what we have achieved as a nation. However, there is more to be done. The advent of Covid-19 has put pressure on human settlements, as it is required to put measures in place to curb the spread of the virus in informal settlements. Twenty-nine densely populated informal settlements have been identified across the country.

The Department of Human Settlements has started to ease the congestion in informal settlement. The construction of 1 000 units around Mamelodi hostels, which is home to more than 8000 people, is one of the priority projects.

The Gauteng provincial government has started allocating and handing over 1 500 housing units to qualifying beneficiaries in Merafong. The beneficiaries will come mainly from Khutsong and Kokosi informal settlements.

There are many completed housing projects across the country, and Sisulu, together with MECs, have issued a directive that there should be no delay in handing them over.

All the interventions are aimed at improving the living conditions of men and women in our informal settlements while enabling them to practise physical distancing as we work together to flatten the curve of Covid-19. As the government continues to do its part, it is equally important for everyone to play theirs as well.

One of the challenges the government is facing is land invasion. Illegal occupation of land meant for human settlements delays the government from delivering on its targets.

Through partnerships, nothing can stop us from changing the lives of those in need of decent shelter over their heads.
Working together, we can successfully tackle the housing backlog. It is possible.

Zibula is head of media relations in the ministry of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation

Press Release Date: 
Wednesday, May 27, 2020