Willow Creek SHU nearing commencement

A depicted example of an SHU project.

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A depicted example of an SHU project.

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GK CRONJE

16 August 2022

Concerns have been raised by the business community and residents in this area that the municipality has in essence written cheques that their actions can’t cash.

Suzuki Ermelo (WEB) 22 September 2020.jp

In line with its strategic focus areas, the Department of Human Settlements (DHS) remains steadfast on increasing access to affordable rental housing across the province, particularly in the mining towns. The DHS announced six projects nationwide, of which two will be in Mpumalanga. KwaNdokuhle and Willow Creek Social Housing Projects will be implemented in Govan Mbeki and Msukaligwa Local Municipalities, respectively. The KwaNdokuhle project will feature 492 social housing units (SHU), whereas the Willow Creek is set to offer 360 units. The combined estimated budget on both projects exceeds R326 million, and will be implemented over a 24 month period, commencing in 2022/23 financial year. Mzansi Housing Company takes responsibility of the Willow Creek Project, which will, according to information available, be constructed in the area between President Fouché Avenue and Wes Street.

MEC Speed Mashilo indicated that these units have no pre-emptive rights whatsoever, and remained assertive and concise that these units will be for rental purposes only. Tenants will be signing lease agreements and committing to paying rental fees as required. Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, Minister of Human Settlements, Water, and Sanitation, unveiled the projects shortly after the State Of The Nation Address, and stated that it forms part of the protracted struggle to eliminate the legacy of apartheid. “More work still needs to be done in reshaping the apartheid spatial development, however, significant progress has already been achieved. The Bill of Rights contained in our constitution affirms the right of all to a healthy environment; access to adequate housing; and access to basic services. Our communities, especially the poorest of the poor, deserve better from us their representatives,” Kubayi-Ngubane stated.

Five social housing institutions and one additional development agency will be supported through equity and loan funding to enable these projects. Kubayi said social housing is government’s most promising programme that will help to disrupt the apartheid spatial development and make cities more inclusive, with social housing bing financed with a combination of government funding, debt and equity. The Tribune spoke to the DHS regarding the project, and which entity will be responsible for which part of the construction. The main cause for concern is the fact that this area that is provisionally allocated for the project is notorious for it’s ongoing sewerage network issues, which has been ongoing for more than a decade.To this day, the issue of raw sewage pollution is ongoing. Additionally, this area falls within the infamous 88KV line, which already experiences daily outages and extended bouts of municipal load reduction. Fears that the already strained network being unable to handle the demand of an additional 360 housing units have been made known.

The DHS responded to the enquiries regarding these issues, and stated that the already fumbling Msukaligwa Local Municipality will, as a matter of principal, be held accountable for the upgrade and maintenance of the required infrastructure for the development. “The municipality is responsible for infrastructure, as such they have made an undertaking to both Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA) and the department to upgrade the infrastructure,” the DHS said.

Concerns have been raised by the business community and residents in this area that the municipality has in essence written cheques that their actions can’t cash. The municipality has already lost the trust of the public with their failure to deliver basic services, and sustainably deliver maintenance to every aspect of the infrastructure of Ermelo. In relation to the commencement date, the DHS is currently dealing with technical and administrative issues which aims to be resolved soon, and will duly indicate the confirmed commencement date as it arrives.