Durban - Durban faces land invasions driven by “shack lords” who are creating shanty towns where they rent out hovels to desperate tenants.
This is creating an endless backlog of those wanting houses and is undermining the city’s efforts to eradicate shacks.
These points were made during a visit by the city’s executive committee to the Cornubia housing development, north of Durban, yesterday.
The city is urgently searching for a policy to stem the tide of people moving on to municipal and private land and to expedite housing delivery.
Briefing the media during the visit, the eThekwini human settlements and infrastructure committee chairman, Nigel Gumede, said the city was under enormous pressure to fast-track housing delivery and remove some shack-dwellers from dangerous areas, including those next to rivers.
The city had a backlog of 150 000 family units and 11 000 families were staying in transit camps. At the current price of R80 000 for a home unit, it would cost the city R12 billion to eradicate its backlog.
“Exco has mandated the city manager to come up with a solution to fast-track the completion of the project, including the tendering process, to ensure maximum output and minimum cost in the fastest time,” he said.
“The issue of mushrooming shacks all over the city demands that swift action be taken to address this issue.”
Gumede said that the city was also facing legal action from people living in transit camps who were demanding that they be provided with proper housing.
In March, families who had been removed from the Siyanda settlement, outside KwaMashu, to make way for a new freeway to Pinetown took the city to court, demanding that it honour a high court ruling handed down in 2009 and instructing it to provide them with houses within a year.
The city was also facing a problem of people being allocated houses, but then letting these to others and moving to another settlement with the hope of being allocated another house.
“The challenge is to beef up the squatter control and anti-land invasion measures,” said Gumede.
“(There are) those who invade land, build shacks and rent them to people. We need to find a way of eliminating the shack lords. We need to come up with a policy on what to do with the shack tenants.”
Gumede said exco’s visit to Cornubia, considered to be one of the best housing developments in the country, was to search for answers on how to fast-track housing delivery.
The city said it was happy with the progress at Cornubia, but it warned communities not to be duped by people claiming they could allocate them houses in exchange for money.
“The primary target for these houses will be people from the informal settlements and we urge people not to invade and illegally occupy the houses,” said Gumede.
The first phase of Cornubia consists of 486 housing units and the second phase will have 2 186 units.