One of the populated areas in Alexandra. Picture: Zintle Mahlati.
The initial  R1.3billion invested in the Alexandra Renewal Project to develop the burgeoning township was not enough.

This is according to Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Obed Bapela, who made submissions to the Alexandra Inquiry on Wednesday.

The purpose of the inquiry was to probe the lack of housing, water, sanitation and overcrowding in the township. The inquiry is also scrutinising allegations of corruption in the renewal project.

“The amount of money allocated by former president Thabo Mbeki - R1.3bn - was not sufficient,” Bapela said, adding that R3bn could have made a difference to address service delivery in Alexandra.

“However, in 2014 when work was done we realised that the old Alexandra would need R12.6bn, while the surrounding areas would require R3.9bn,” he said.

Bapela gave details on the progress made by the inter-ministerial task team appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa in the wake of the Alexandra protests in April.

Ramaphosa appointed the team to probe the challenges in the township.

Bapela spoke about housing and commercial development plans. Those, he said, include a mixed-group development of 5000 high-density housing units, social amenities; 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 the Alex City development plan.

“For these projects to really save Alexandra from decay, it would take 10 to 20 years.

“It would not take two, three or four years,” he said.

Bapela said this could be achieved if more land was made available, and if people were willing to move out of Alexandra.

The challenges faced by most Alexandra residents was the result of “rapid urbanisation,” he pointed out.

“If we are to solve all Alexandra’s problems, particularly the old Alexandra, we need to decongest it,” Bapela said.

Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi was also on the stand, and highlighted his department’s roadmap Intervention 2024 plan, with Alexandra central to the project.

The interventions were related to early childhood development and skills development.

Lesufi said the impact of the Alexandra shutdown had disrupted eight school days.

“Our district requested extra funding from us for additional classes, so that those learners were able to catch up, and ensure that their right to education was not disrupted,” Lesufi said.

@Chulu_M