Durban - The provincial government, bracing for an influx of people to eThekwini over the next decade, has vowed to speed up the delivery of houses and eradicate slums across KwaZulu-Natal.

Human Settlements MEC Ravi Pillay, touring several housing projects in uMlazi on Thursday, said the government faced an enormous task delivering quality homes to citizens.

He said research had indicated that by the year 2020 there would be an additional eight million people living in cities across the country, including Durban, and by 2050 an additional five million people.

“It is a challenge we are going to have to grapple with. Right now, however, we are doing all we can and it is going to get even more intensive.”

Pillay, with mayor James Nxumalo, city manager Sbu Sithole and a host of officials, toured six housing projects in uMlazi – KZN’s biggest township – where the government has set aside nearly half a billion rand to eradicate shack lands.

Where crudely built shacks once stood, more than 14 000 brick houses have mushroomed since 2006.

The houses have been built by businesswoman Shauwn Mpisane’s Zikhulise Cleaning and Transport.

“What makes this remarkable is that if you look at the terrain, it was very difficult to get to. These areas had been left undeveloped (under apart-heid’s) regional township development precisely because they were deemed to be undevelopable,” Pillay said.

“But in the democratic era and as people moved in, people occupied every space and massive informal settlements grew in these areas.”

Pointing to the homes, he said: “I think it is an absolutely amazing achievement by the municipality and the contractor to achieve this upgrade despite the conditions.”

The houses have been built in valleys and mountainous terrain, which forced builders to erect retaining walls costing the government more than R179 million alone.

Pillay said that while many homes had electricity and water, officials were facing the challenge of providing sanitation to the homes – because of the terrain.

“At the moment there is electricity and for water there are stand pipes.

“The challenge we are facing is with sewage because you have to pump sewage to join a main line.

“That is what the engineers are busy designing at the moment.”

The tour was also part of Premier Senzo Mchunu’s 100-day target, since his inaugural speech, to have at least 350 houses in the project connected to services.

Nxumalo said the city was pleased by the progress made in building houses.

“Three or five years ago these areas were wall to wall informal settlement.

“However, because of the rugged terrain, access roads could not be built to many of the homes. If you provide access roads some houses have to be damaged.

“However, people don’t understand these things. They do not want to be relocated. They resist and say they want houses here – they were born here and we have to build houses there. But they don’t look to the future. Some of them will buy cars but there will be no access roads,” he said.

Nxumalo said the municipality had prioritised eradicating informal settlements and asked those still living in them to be patient.

He said they were aware of the recent service delivery protests in oThongathi (Tongaat) and pleaded with those residents for more time.

“There are 150 housing projects going on throughout eThekwini and Tongaat is part of that. My message to people is to be patient, we are coming,” he said.

Duduzile Ncayiya, 43, who lived in one room shack with her teenage son for the past 14 years, recently moved into uMlazi's G-section.

“This is much better than what we had; I am very happy,” she said.

“Having my own home has been dreams come true.”

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