Ethekwini must Sort out Housing Policy

GEORGE MARI, MPP

DA KZN SPOKESPERSON FOR COGTA &HUMAN SETTLEMENTS

ETHEKWINI Human Settlement officials must commit to ironing out the municipality’s housing allocation policy if they are to ensure the safety of residents living in informal settlements, in particular those living within the Quarry Road West informal settlement on the banks of the Umgeni River in Springfield Park.

The Quarry Road informal settlement is a disaster waiting to happen.  Last weekend’s tropical storm exposed this and the current situation, with shacks built precariously on the sloping banks of the river, poses a serious threat to this community.  There is no doubt that these residents need to be moved for their own safety.  This settlement was identified for relocation as part of KwaZulu-Natal’s Slums Clearance Project in 2002/3 and a response by the municipality following concern expressed by the DA earlier this week states that these families are earmarked for priority allocation to the Cornubia housing project.  Yet the reality is that nobody, including KZN Human Settlements MEC, Ravi Pillay, appears to have any idea what the allocation policy is for Cornubia. Meanwhile five hundred homes already completed as part of the housing scheme are standing empty.

There are currently 115 out of 476 informal settlements within Ethekwini which require complete relocation. Yet officials appear to have adopted a remarkably laid back position.  The municipality’s response to the DA’s suggestion, that a transit facility for Quarry Road residents be set up within Cornubia, was that it become “an issue for discussion”. The DA believes that the transfer of these residents must be expedited as soon as possible, with the waiting list referred to in the municipality’s response, pursued through Council as a matter of urgency.

Despite legislation to prevent the expansion of informal settlements, they continue to mushroom in and around eThekwini due to a lack of monitoring by the municipality.  The municipality originally committed itself to eradicating informal settlements by 2014 – a target which has now moved to 2020.  This is a massive task and the only way to achieve this goal is to deal with the housing allocation policy.  If the municipality expects people to move then they must be able to provide them with a better alternative.

George Mari, MPP

DA KZN COGTA Spokesperson

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