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The Hospital Street Housing Project is making headway, with the Department of Housing and Human Settlements ensuring the initiative proves to be a success.
The multi-million Rand project was originally announced by former Newcastle Mayor, Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba on 14 October 2020 during a soil turning ceremony.
On the day, he noted that the project would see 1 200 people being employed, further assuring all building equipment and material would be sourced from local businesses. Thereby pumping cash into the Newcastle economy.
With high hopes being put on the project, in June 2021, the Newcastle Municipality noted that the housing project had seen minor delays.
Initially, the project was meant to be a 24-month initiative. But the Municipality claimed unforeseen challenges delayed the progress. According to the municipality, these included bad weather, economic conditions and the pandemic.
Following this, in February 2022, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, announced the construction of six mega social housing projects over the next two years. One mentioned was the Hospital Street Social Housing project.
- Fochville Extension 11 in the West Rand District Municipality, Gauteng. The proposed development will consist of 2,198 residential units, out of which 258 will be Social Housing Units (SHU). This project is expected to create 953 jobs.
- Hospital Street, Newcastle, Amajuba District Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal. The proposed development consists of 53 four-storey building blocks comprised of 1,056 units.
- Initially, the project was expected to see 1 200 people employed. However, Kubayi-Ngubane says the project is expected to create 3384 jobs.
- Germiston Extension 4 in Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, Gauteng. The project has planned 201 SHUs to accommodate 601 people. This project is expected to create 847 jobs.
- Kwandokuhle Social Housing Project in Gert Sibande District Municipality, Mpumalanga. The project involves the construction of a total of 492 SHUs in Govan Mbeki Local Municipality in the Gert Sibande District Municipality, Mpumalanga province. This project is expected to create 1544 jobs
- Hull Street Phase 1 in Francis Baard District Municipality, Northern Cape. The Hull Street, Social Housing Project, envisions delivering 600 SHUs in two phases. This project is expected to create 1152 jobs.
- The Willow Creek Project is located in Ermelo, in the Msukaligwa Local Municipality in the Gert Sibande District Municipality, Mpumalanga province. The project entails the construction of 360 SHUs in the Ermelo Central Business District (CBD). This project is expected to create 1062 jobs.
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Furthermore, 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, which included the Hospital Street Housing Project.
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Reflecting on the work that has currently been done, the Department of Housing and Human Settlements states that the following:
- All boundary walls
- Civil works
- Sewer pipes
- Fire water pipes
- Drinking water
- Two guard houses of three
- Refuse building
- Filling and compaction of all platforms and roads
- Concrete surface beds to 7 of 54 blocks. The project produces 1 concrete surface bed a day
Moreover, according to a list seen by the Newcastillian – Online News, the project has seen multiple local contractors and suppliers being used, with a handful of out-of-town businesses adding necessary skills to the massive project.
When looking at the most noteworthy highlights of the project thus far, the Department’s Communications Unit said, “It’s a project with a height units yield in a small population town that has to date successfully used a management agent implementing model, where an IA buys and provides material and pays the plant suppliers plant, pay for disposables and the local selected sub-contractors provide all the Labour and do the work under very knowledgeable supervision. The project raised the funding through sweat-equity instead of the usual loans from the financial institutions.”
While the Department is pleased with the massive project, there are certain challenges that have been faced in recent months.
These challenges include:
- The recent unusual heavy rains which caused delays.
- Escalation of material prices caused by the supply chain problems attributed to COVID-19, making the project unaffordable through conventional methods.
- Lower than normal capacity of local suppliers attributed to that the suppliers are not used to supplying such big demand
- Disturbances by those who have unreasonable benefit expectations from the project
But despite these challenges, the Department has set its sights on concluding the project by February 2024.
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