Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Obed Bapela at the Alexandra Inquiry. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)

Deputy Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Obed Bapela believes that the only way to solve problems besieging Alexandra township is to decongest it.

Bapela was speaking at the Alexandra Inquiry in Braamfontein on Wednesday. The inquiry's purpose is to look at problems such as lack of housing, water, sanitation and overcrowding that are rampant in the township. The inquiry is also looking into allegations of corruption in the Alexandra Renewal Project (ARP) -  a project initially worth R1.3 billion, launched in 2001 to develop the populated township.

Bapela gave details on the progress made by the Inter-ministerial task team appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa in the wake of Alexandra protests in February.  Ramaphosa appointed the team to probe the challenges in the township.

Bapela highlighted challenges in the township including, land ownership disputes, land availability for development, local governance issues, unemployment, limited development impact and internal tensions. 

Baphela also spoke about housing and commercial development plans that he said were in planning stages. 

Those, he said, include a mixed group development of 5 000 high density housing units, social amenities and industrial and commercial land use on 271,5 hectares owned by the Gauteng Provincial government, a joint venture with the University of the Witwatersrand and Alex City development. 

He added that the challenges faced by most Alexandra residents was a result of “rapid urbanization.” 

“If we are to solve the problem of Alexandra, particularly the old Alexandra, we need to decongest it," he said.

Bapela also provided progress on the implementation of the State of Intent including engagements around title deeds saying   484 165 hectares was identified around Alexandra for allocation as well as the financial compensation for land owners.

“There is no movement on this option as properties must be valued to determine compensation,” he said. 

He added that the mushrooming of shacks on river lines and school premises needed to be dealt with urgently. 

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi was also expected to give testimony.

@Chulu_M

The Star