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KwaZulu-Natal’s housing backlog of 742 000 units exacerbated by recent floods

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Human Settlements and Public Works Ntuthuko “Jomo” Sibiya. Picture: Supplied

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Human Settlements and Public Works Ntuthuko “Jomo” Sibiya. Picture: Supplied

Published May 12, 2022

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Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal housing backlog of 742 000 units could be delayed further because of the recent floods.

It was described as a “moving target” by the MEC for Human Settlements, Ntuthuko “Jomo” Sibiya, when he delivered his R4.123 billion 2022/23 budget allocation speech.

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The department has appointed eight service providers for the construction of 1 810 temporary residential units (TRUs) for flood victims in eThekwini Municipality, and in the Ilembe, Ugu and uMzinyathi districts in line with the re-prioritisation of funds towards the disaster relief and rehabilitation.

Sibiya has set March 2023 as a delivery target; 12 891 fully subsidised housing units integrated residential development projects (RDP, rural, etc) will be provided to qualifying households in the province.

Targets include: 11 031 sites will be serviced; 7 157 houses will be built in rural areas; 5 700 work opportunities will be created; two informal settlements in KZN will be upgraded for stage 3 implementation; 200 social/ rental housing units will be completed; 650 community residential housing units will be delivered; 1 879 pre-1994 title deeds will be registered and 6 268 title deeds (post-1994, post-2014 and new) will be registered.

Also, 594 finance linked individual subsidy programme opportunities will be created; 113 military veterans’ houses will be delivered utilising military veterans and private contractors; 123 houses will be built for vulnerable groups through the Operation Sukuma Sakhe programme; and 10 000 beneficiaries will be reached through the consumer education programme.

Following the floods, ratepayers in Reservoir Hills and alongside the Jika Joe informal settlement in Pietermaritzburg rejected the building of TRUs near affluent areas.

They feared it will become permanent settlements.

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“We are in negotiations with individuals and ratepayers’ associations, who have flatly refused to allow us to build temporary residential units for the helpless communities. They have declared their backyard a no-go zone despite the availability of government and municipal land,” Sibiya said.

The resistance resulted in delays in moving displaced communities.

“The floods necessitated an immediate response. Approximately R1 billion in the human settlements grants will be re-prioritised to alleviate the impact of the disaster,” Sibiya added.

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“Planned deliverables from projects will change to allow for the re-prioritisation of funds to enable our best response to the floods. However, we will endeavour to source additional funding from the national Department of Human Settlements during the budget adjustment phase.”

Sibiya said the Housing Development Agency was working closely with his department to map out more pieces of land to supplement the more than 17 000 hectares of land already identified to build houses.

The department has identified 3 815 properties to build houses for destitute people, including those who will be relocated from river banks. The department also bought land from private developers.

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Sibiya said they were conducting an audit to evict and criminally charge illegal occupiers of houses.

He said the allocation towards the informal settlements upgrading partnership grant was R756 868. An amount of R397 705 is ring-fenced for disasters that occurred during 2019 and 2020. The department has received R6.499 million for the EPWP grant in the 2022/23 financial year.

With regard to the Cornubia integrated residential development project, Sibiya was concerned about what the department regarded “as the snail’s pace at which the Cornubia project is moving”.

“Working with eThekwini Municipality, we have made a decision as the department to be closer to this project as people cannot wait any longer.”

He said to date, 70 upgrading plans had been completed from a total of 98. In this financial year, 35 informal settlements will be upgraded.

Sibiya said the department was putting plans in place to support the maintenance of hostels.

“In eThekwini, the department has approved funding amounting to R195m for the construction of new in-fill blocks in five prioritised hostels over the next three years,” said Sibiya.

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