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Alexandra housing project struggles on poor planning

Posted On Tuesday, 01 November 2005 02:00 Published by
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THE R1,3bn Alexandra Renewal Project will not meet its 2007 housing deadline, a fact project officials have been aware of for some time despite rosy reports to the contrary.

Thabo Mbeki

Only 600 housing units have been provided in the first four years of the project, instead of the required 21000. Many of the houses are too expensive for Alexandra residents, requiring new plans for the introduction of cheaper accommodation.

A report presented last week to the Johannesburg City Council by the project’s new director, Julian Baskin, outlines poor planning and management by previous project directors.

In the report, he asked the city to raise R400m over the remainder of the project — the next 27 months — to include cheaper houses and one-room units for rent.

The housing programme is financed largely by the Gauteng housing department through its subsidies and grants, but the city is required to top up this amount.

Baskin said the project, launched by President Thabo Mbeki in 2001, was premised on a number of assumptions that did not materialise. Waiting lists for housing dating back 10 years and with about 10000 registrations are likely to be done away with because of poor planning and questions about transparency.

“Since the waiting list was opened there has been a huge influx of households into Alexandra.

Households have settled on drainage tributaries, road reserves, school play yards, river banks, as well as private factories and buildings,” said Baskin.

To implement the project, relocation of these families had become a priority, he said.

“(As) this then implies, by default more recent residents are given preference on house allocations.”

The Democratic Alliance’s Alan Fuchs, who serves the Alexandra area, said there had been a number of complaints about poor delivery of homes.

Fuchs said by the middle of this year only 30% of the project’s budget had been spent and added fuel to his concern that the project was not running at the expected pace.

“It is an absolute disgrace that the first four years of the project have produced only 2,8% of the housing required,” he said.

“In addition, the introduction of this new option of single rooms for rent is contrary to the desires of the people of Alex.”

He said residents would be up in arms if a decision was taken to abolish the housing waiting list after waiting “patiently for government to get their house in order”.

Baskin said one of the biggest problems was a shortage of land.

“Simply, without additional land there is no solution to the development challenges facing Alexandra,” he said.

The council voted to introduce lower income housing to Alexandra and to endorse Baskin’s appeal that all departments and utilities prioritise the projects.

Last modified on Saturday, 08 March 2014 12:24
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