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No funds for housing backlog

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Province urged to rather concentrate on bulk infrastructure

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NATIONAL Treasury has turned down a request for a budget increase of R4 million by the Northern Cape Department of Human Settlements to deal with the housing backlog in the Province.

This emerged during a recent Parliamentary Portfolio Committee meeting with the Department of Human Settlements (DHS) and the Department of Military Veterans (DMV) on the qualification criteria and guidelines for the provision of houses for military veterans.

During the meeting the committee was also briefed by the Northern Cape DHS on its 2017/18 business plan for the eradication of the housing backlog in the Province.

It was stated in the meeting that the request for additional funds had been declined and it had been recommended that the Province focus on its bulk infrastructure issues before it upscaled.

“However, an increase in the budget would allow the Province to deal effectively with the backlog,” it was stated.

According to the minutes of the meeting, Bafedile Shadrack, the head of department, said that there were diverse views regarding the eradication of the existing housing backlog, with some stating that it may not be possible due to the continuous population growth and needs. According to the census report, the backlog in 2011 was 39 604, but the 2016 census report indicated that there were more than 42 000 houses needed.

He added that the department’s budget in this financial year was R402 million, although there was a need to increase the budget to enable the department to achieve its targets more effectively.

Figures supplied indicated that around 11 000 housing units had been completed, with 1 600 units planned to be completed, and 375 sites ready for construction.

According to Shadrack, generating and sustaining bulk water and power requirements remained a challenge in the Province but discussions were ongoing with the minister of Water and Sanitation.

He pointed out also that there was a need to integrate innovative means and technologies for alternative housing but the success of this depended on the sensitisation and response of local communities. This will help in marketing the viability of alternative technologies, as opposed to bricks and mortar, which are scarce.

Shadrack indicated that the backlog in the Province stretched back to the previous years. However, it had been catered for in the planning, and the national and provincial Human Settlements departments had taken over the delivery of the houses from municipalities.