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By News24 Wire

Wire Service

EC pledges R69bn to upgrade informal settlements, build new houses

On the province's water backlog, officials told the committee about R101 billion were needed to provide decent water and sanitation to all households.

One of the Eastern Cape’s poorest regions has had 8,538 beneficiaries waiting for houses since 1998, and 77% of them are now over the age of 40.

To address the housing needs, the Eastern Cape government is now throwing billions at upgrading informal settlements and building new houses.

Human Settlements MEC Nonkqubela Pieters presented these plans during a virtual sitting of parliament’s Human Settlement Committee on Friday.

Special attention has been given to the OR Tambo District Municipality, where the government’s district development model is being implemented.

More houses

Human settlements department chief director Suresh Galahitiyawa said plans were afoot to build more houses, adding the government would intervene to ensure the backlog was reduced.

“There are 8,538 beneficiaries waiting for houses since 1998. The department has embarked on a rigorous evaluation of approved beneficiaries. A review and reprioritisation of its approved beneficiaries [is under way] to ensure that it responds rapidly and consistently to the plight of the destitute and vulnerable,” he added.

There are currently 45 projects out of a total of 115 active ones in the municipality aligned to the district development model.

“There are plans in place to ensure 100% compliance before year-end,” Galahitiyawa said.

In 2016, the municipality had a population 1.46 million after a growth of 6.7% between 2011 and 2016.

The latest 2019 mid-year estimate shows the district has a population of 1.5 million.

“Of the 314,079 households in the ORT District, 54% were traditional, almost double the province’s rate which was 26%. Only 6.3% of households in OR Tambo were RDP/government subsidised dwellings, of these 65.3% were rated as good or average and 34.7% were rated as poor,” Galahitiyawa said.

The province has allocated R69 million to upgrade 20 informal settlements in the region.

Funds not used

At a cost of R1.5 billion, the provincial government plans to make 4,181 sites available and deliver more than 8,000 units across the province.

There are also plans to hand over 5,000 new title deeds to beneficiaries.

On the issue of title deeds, Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Deputy Minister Pam Tshwete said money was not a problem but lamented some provinces were not using the funds allocated to them.

Department head Tabisa Poswa said R270 million have been prioritised for informal settlements.

“We have got priority housing developments. It will be integrated housing developments. For informal settlements, there will be upgrades in various regions of the province,” she added.

On the province’s water backlog, officials told the committee about R101 billion were needed to provide decent water and sanitation to all households.

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