eThekwini worker, Bra Dee busy sweeps Pixley ka Seme street in the Durban city centre. The eThekwini Municipality has undertaken to create social housing projects as part of a multibillion-rand project to breathe life into the inner city. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency(ANA)
Durban - WITH more than 8 000 people living on the streets and crime gripping the city, the eThekwini Municipality has undertaken to create social housing projects as part of a multibillion-rand project to breathe life into the inner city.

During presentations to the business community this weekend, deputy mayor Fawzia Peer highlighted some of the many challenges Durban faced.

“The reality is that many of us see the inner city as a place of problems,” she said.

These problems included noisy taxis, unregulated street trading and derelict buildings. “No wonder we see problems,” Peer said.

She said the unsupervised maintenance of street lights and roads were a huge part of the problem.

To deal with the issue of homelessness, the Strollers building on Mansel Road was earmarked to accommodate homeless people with a special focus on women and children. Men would be housed in a different building, Peer said.

Social workers would also be based in the Strollers building to assist the homeless and non-governmental organisations would be consulted on the way forward, said Peer.

In a separate media statement the municipality said the entire project, which was a public/private venture, had investments worth more than R62 billion - and the city wanted more businesses to join in and be a part of its development initiatives.

Peer said she understood that businesses were frustrated with the way in which the municipality handled certain matters. This included its poor billing system and not knowing who to contact within the municipality to deal with the problem.

Phakama Nhassengo, founder of Vascowiz Investments - one of the leading businesses involved in housing projects in the city - said it was important that businesses no longer focused on their own interests without being concerned about what happened elsewhere.

He said this inward-looking approach was not good for business because the surrounding environment affected tenants and customers alike.

“Municipal and private sector partnership are essential for both instilling investor confidence and ensuring optimal service levels to public areas. This, in turn, needs to be supported by enabling redevelopment incentives and municipal investment in infrastructure,” he said.

Nhassengo said they had plans to reinvigorate the Victoria Street Market, which is a blend of African and Indian cultures, and wanted it to become a night market, too.

Bongumusa Zondo, the acting head of the Safer Cities Unit, said there were about 8 000 homeless people in Durban, Isipingo, Pinetown and uThongathi. He said this was caused by multiple reasons such as rapid urbanisation, unemployment and drug and substance abuse. To try to make a difference, various projects had been initiated to empower people with skills, such as brick-laying, he said.

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