Ottery housing delayed

The open piece of land in Ottery where the housing development will be built.

Frustrated Ottery residents want answers from the City of Cape Town about a planned housing development in the area.

Beneficiaries say they are waiting with bated breath to find out details about when the development will start or any other details about the project but claim nothing concrete has been confirmed by the City (“New R30m housing development for Ottery”, Southern Mail, June 28).

The R30 million development is supposed to be built in Edward Street opposite the Ottery Multi-purpose Centre and beneficiaries include backyard dwellers and informal settlement residents.

In June last year the City said construction on the development would start soon because the appointment of a contractor was at its final stages at the time.

A steering committee consisting of beneficiaries was set up in the interim.

Vanessa Oncke, who has been on the housing list for 13 years, said it was a dream come true to be chosen to receive a house but frustration is growing.

“Having an opportunity to live in a proper house is truly a blessing. We are very excited and I am looking forward to having a house of our own but we have been waiting for so long and promises were made to us but nothing has come of it,” said

Ms Oncke said she also fears for their lives as gang shootings have started again in the area.

“A bullet can easily rip through the walls of our wendy house. We need the safety of a brick house. Every time the City gives us a new date. We just want the construction to start so we can move into the houses as soon as possible,” she said.

Murjehan Farat has been on the waiting list for 25 years and lives with her mother in a two-bedroom house in Parkwood.

“In 2015 when I first found out I was approved I cried because I was so overjoyed. Now three years later, not a brick or foundation has been laid. Nothing is happening and it is worrying but all we can do is continue being patient,” said Ms Farat.

Ward councillor William Akim said a meeting was held with officials in charge of the development at a greater stakeholders meeting on Friday August 31.

“I am aware that the beneficiaries want to know when the project will start but there has been some further developments. Initially there were going to be 104 units, now the number has been increased to 130 units.

“We will have a meeting on Thursday October 25 with the steering meeting and then a meeting will be held with the beneficiaries to give them details about the development,” said Mr Akim.

Brett Herron, the City’s Mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, said the project is in the planning stages.

He said the 2017 tender to appoint a contractor for the construction of civil infrastructure and top structures was unsuccessful.

“The lowest responsive bidder was in excess of the available funding amounts, and permission was sought from the City’s Bid Adjudication Committee to negotiate with them as the preferred bidder. However, after several rounds of negotiation, the preferred bidder could not revise their rates downward and the project was left with a funding shortfall which led to the inevitable cancellation of this tender,” he said.

Asked if there was any timeline as to when the project would start, Mr Herron said according to the project programme, the objective is to “reconceptualise” the project. He confirmed that the City is looking to increase the number of units.

“This month we appointed a panel of consultants who will assist in ensuring that work will be able to proceed at a faster pace going forward,”said Mr Herron.

He said meetings are held on a quarterly basis with the ward councillor and the elected project steering committee in order to keep the community informed of progress.

“The City has been upfront about timelines and delays at these meetings. However, it is not possible to predict the outcome of tender processes and it is therefore not always possible to provide accurate timelines,” said Mr Herron.

Other housing projects planned in the south includes Vrygrond and Retreat and consultant appointments are currently being finalised for these projects.

Planning work on these projects will start in November.

The Retreat project will be located on a City-owned site in 8th Avenue and 450 units will be built, while the Vrygrond project will be located on a City-owned site abutting the existing Vrygrond development and 700 units will be built.

There were mentions of a project in Grassy Park but Mr Herron denied this.

“Feasibility assessments of City-owned land parcels in this area will be undertaken during 2019,” he said.