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Immense emphasis is being placed on development in Newcastle and its surrounding areas. On Monday, 21 February 2022, KwaZulu-Natal Human Settlements and Public Works MEC, Jomo Sibiya, travelled to Newcastle to receive technical reports on the progress of various housing projects.
Sibiya told the leaders of Newcastle Municipality that the department was on track to complete more than 22 857 rental housing units across the province.
Further stating that the units are designed to provide low-cost Social Housing and Community Residential Units (CRUs). “The social housing instrument will yield a total of 16 399 units and the CRU instrument will yield 6 458 units,” Sibiya said.
Addressing Newcastle’s leadership, Sibiya stated, “Last year in November, during the inauguration of councils in various municipalities across the province – I offered to work with municipalities to speed up the rollout of socio-economic infrastructure, including human settlements.
Today, I am meeting with the leadership of Newcastle Local Municipality. Speed, efficiency and hard work remains the hallmark of our work during this term of office. This is what we want to share with the local leadership today.”
He pointed out that his department will receive technical reports detailing progress around the following projects, all of whom total over R1 billion:
- Johnston, Blaaubosch and Cavan Housing Development Project – Phase 1 with 2518 units.
- Johnston, Blaaubosch and Cavan Housing Development Project – Phase 2 and 3 with 8985 sites.
The JBC Housing Development project is designed to be an Integrated Residential Development Project (IRDP) focusing on providing service sites to people in the affordable market.
“We are also paying special attention towards increasing the supply of middle-income market housing to meet the high demand. We are moving with speed to complete more than 22 857 rental housing units across the province, which are geared towards affordable Social Housing and Community Residential Units (CRUs),” the MEC explained.
The Social Housing instrument will produce 16 399 units, while the CRU instrument will produce 6 458 units.
“Our visit to Newcastle must therefore be viewed as part of our efforts aimed at ensuring that we meet our targets,” Sibiya elaborated.
The N11 CRU and Hospital Street Social Housing Project in Newcastle, with a budget of more than R387 471 436,80, apparently forms part of his department’s determination to expand their affordable rental housing footprint beyond the urban centres.
“We are playing an active role in terms of stimulating local economic investment by using construction and built environment as a catalyst. We want to prevent the migration of people to bigger cities in search of job opportunities and a better life.”
Moreover, he adds that it has ensured the acquisition of skills and jobs for the young people of this area.
When looking at the locals employed to work on the projects, the MEC says, “We want to prepare them to be part of the efforts to grow the local economy. In the future, they will generate much needed revenue for the local municipality. Our investments in rural and township areas also should be viewed within the context of creating well-paying job opportunities for professionals in the built industry and other sectors of the economy.”
However, Sibiya emphasises that the KZN Human Settlements and Public Department continues to deal decisively with elements that seek to interfere with housing projects.
“We call on communities to stand up against any form of human rights abuse. Access to housing is a basic human right. We wish to warn other implementing agents that are constructing shoddy houses that we won’t hesitate to act. We will blacklist them and ensure that we recover any cent paid to them.”
In addition, the MEC stressed that support from the National Government, through the Minister of Human Settlements Mammakolo Kubayi, is highly appreciated.
“She is in support of our efforts aimed at putting to end all practices that results in housing projects that are forever under construction. We are firm behind a decision of taking away development status from municipalities that are failing to deliver houses to our people.”
Critically, during his visit, corruption often associated with the allocation of houses and the overall administration of beneficiary list continues to receive immediate attention.
“We have stated in the past that we will never fold our arms when deserving community members are side-lined by rogue elements that are manipulating processes associated with the compilation of beneficiary list. We will act swiftly against those attempting to stop human settlements projects.”
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