Stalled RDP project feeds explosive situation in Joburg informal settlement

Janet Semple MPL

Spokesperson on Housing

The first phase of a provincial housing project in the Princess informal settlement in Roodepoort has ground to a halt, with no sign of work in over two months. A year later, and despite repeated calls from community activists, the land allocated for Phase 1 of the project remains empty.

My questions to Human Settlements MEC Ntombi Mekgwe in the Provincial Legislature revealed that out of the R15 million budget for the project only R609 000 has been spent to date. The project was supposed to supply 1 900 units, which are a mix of 2-3 storey walk-up units.

Princess informal settlement was the site of several violent service delivery protests in 2012, with community members claiming they have not received houses since 1996. The department announced the housing project in September last year in response to these protests.

While this may have placated the local community, rising tensions due to the two month delay in construction and apparent neglect by the department could become the grounds for further violent protests.

Local DA Councillor Gert Niemand echoed concerns over growing tensions saying that the community feels betrayed by the MEC’s broken promises.

This potentially explosive situation demands an urgent investigation from the department. The MEC should not use housing promises as a pacifier of legitimate community outrage when her department cannot deliver.