Residents fuming over housing delays

Protesters burn tyres and bins on the streets.

Residents and community workers in Ottery, Parkwood and Retreat have threatened protest action if their housing demands are not met.

Last week the Sub-council 18 meeting as well as a public meeting in Ottery was interrupted when the issue of housing was raised.

Ward 66 councillor William Akim said residents are blaming him for the delay of the Edward Street housing project.

“I have tried to keep residents up to date with information about the housing project but my hands are tied,” he said.

Sub-council 18 manager Shanen Rossouw said those who interrupted the meetings were unfairly blaming and threatening the ward councillor.

“It is not right that the councillor is blamed and held accountable for the delay. They are attacking him and those who interrupted these meetings are causing havoc and trouble and refuse to listen to reason,” she said.

Community worker Howard Soetwater from the United Homeless People’s Development Association (UHPDA) said residents will take to the streets to protest if the housing issue is not addressed soon.

“They are not being upfront with information and these housing plans are taking too long. Another issue is the issue around who will be eligible for these houses. We feel that those who squatted and fought for the land must get priority. We are the ones who identified the land and came up with a plan for houses to be built at certain open pieces of land. Members from the UHPDA must be considered for housing,” he said.

Paul Phillips from the Voice of Parkwood organisation said council could not give positive and confirmed progress on residents’ housing needs.

“After being bombarded with challenging questions from activists from civil rights organisations at a public meeting, metro police intervened and the meeting was abruptly adjourned. Residents are up in arms with conflicted reports from the City and provincial government on what the real deal is regarding human settlement,” said Mr Phillips.

Hesaidprotestactionis planned.

Malusi Booi, Mayoral committee member for human settlements, said the Edward Street housing project experienced many delays since its inception in 2008 that was outside of the control of the councillors or officials.

“The most notable delay came when all approvals were in place and the project was advertised on tender, and all responsive (valid) tenders came in over the available subsidy amount. Unfortunately, a contractor could not be appointed for more money than is available in the subsidy amount, and the tender therefore had to be cancelled. This resulted in a substantial delay in the project,” he said.

Mr Booi said a new consulting team has been appointed and they are already working on the redesign of the project to make the units more affordable – thereby enabling the City to construct it within the subsidy amounts.

“The team has been briefed on the urgency of the project and they are doing their utmost to get approvals in place as soon as possible. All the old project information has been reviewed and
new layout options have been drafted for input. These will be made available to the Project Steering Committee for comment
soon, after which the application will be formalised and pub-
lished for public participation,” he said.

A steering committee has been set up for the Greater Retreat Project, which includes Retreat,
Parkwood and the surrounding areas and is in the assessment phase.

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