During a site visit last week, Human Settlements MEC Tertius Simmers expressed his satisfaction with the progress at the housing development sites in Gugulethu and Tambo Village which are part of the Airport Precinct Infills Projects (APIP) housing project.
The APIP is divided into five infill sites, namely, Luyolo, Tambo Village, Gxagxa (erf 301 and 302), New Rest and Lusaka, all in Gugulethu and is the first phase of the Main Precinct Informal Settlement Upgrading Project.
The project involves the construction of internal and bulk engineering services and 729 houses, 455 of which will be Breaking New Ground units and 274 high density units.
Mr Simmers said things had to take time to shape up, mainly due to disputes with some beneficiaries who had not wanted to move from the identified sites, theft of stock and what he described as political interference.
“I am satisfied with the developments in spite of challenges,” said Mr Simmers.
“I’m also happy because all problems and obstacles have been overcome and construction can go on.
“I want to urge people not to use politics when it comes to housing. Many people have died while waiting for their houses. Some are in squalor waiting for the houses. I do not care, we might have differences, people can vote for any political party of their choice, but we must improve the lives of our people,” he said.
After years of waiting and government pumping money into the project, many continue to live in dire conditions while their houses are either vandalised or remain unfinished.
Mr Simmers added that the houses being built on the sites will mainly benefit elderly and people living with disabilities.
“We are tired of seeing young people jumping the queue. We cannot afford to leave out elderly people and the disabled. We will cater for them first and the backyarders,” he said.
The department’s project manager Sandile Gqobhoka said they had started building roads, streets and pavements and that construction of top structures would start in October.
“There has been challenges but now it is a thing of the past. We have created job opportunities and there is more coming. With Gxagxa we have started clearing up. But we are happy with developments,” he said.
The delegation that visited the sites on Thursday August 26 included Ward 40 councillor Bongani Ngcombolo, the housing steering committee and officials from the Human Settlements Department.
Housing steering committee member Pat Grootboom thanked the department for making sure that there was progress in Gugulethu.
Housing beneficiaries will be sourced from the Gugulethu, Manenberg and New Rest backyarders, and residents of the Gxagxa and Lusaka informal settlements areas.
The project, which has a budget allocation of R364 million started in September 2020 and is expected to be concluded by February 2025.