100714 Lonmin CE Ben Magara,Rangwana Emius Mogale (from Royal family) and MEC for human settlement and local goverment Collen Maine at the sod turning in Marikana Rusternburg.photo by Simphiwe Mbokazi

Lonmin officially handed over land yesterday to the North West government on which more than 2 600 housing units will be built.

The Marikana Extension 2 housing project is expected to be an improvement on government RDP projects.

The provincial government will offer housing subsidies and rental accommodation through the project.

It would comprise 535 RDP houses for households with incomes of R3 500 and less and 2 089 low-income homes for households earning between R3 500 and R7 500 who would rent the units.

The government also planned 34 units for qualifying homeowners who earned between R3 501 and R15 000.

The development would comprise facebrick homes that would be plastered inside and outside. People would have an option to rent or buy the homes.

The contractors on the project are black-owned construction firms.

The shortages of housing, water and sanitation in the area were named as contributing factors in the grievances that resulted in the deaths of 34 people at Marikana on August 16, 2012.

The houses will be built on the 50ha of land donated by Lonmin in October last year and the Local Government and Human Settlements Department in the North West will fund the development.

Infrastructure, including sewerage and power, had been put in place on the land, Lonmin said.

The North West government has allocated R462 million for the construction of the housing units.

Contractors are expected on site next week, and are due to start building next month. The first phase of the project, comprising a third of the homes, is expected to be completed within 12 months.

Construction had been scheduled to start in March, but there were delays in the appointment of contractors.

Collen Maine, the Human Settlements and Local Government MEC, urged councillors to ensure that the community members benefited from the project.

“Councillors you must not put your uncles on the list for the houses… we must ensure that our local contractors benefit from the houses.”

Sifuna imali yethu”( we want our money), shouted the audience when Ben Magara, the chief executive of Lonmin, took to the podium at the sod-turning ceremony in Marikana yesterday.

Magara told Business Report on the sidelines of the event: “We committed to financial literacy for our employees. We are hoping that with good budgeting they can afford rental of the units.”

He added: “We are comfortable that we will meet government deadlines to convert single-sex hostels into family units by December... We started converting 128 single-sex hostels in 2008 and now we are left with 20 which will be converted by the end of the year.”

He said Lonmin had spent R250m towards converting the hostels and had approved R500m for the next five years to build more units.