Steve Biko housing scheme ready to roll

POSITIVE PURPOSE: The government is planning to transform the rundown Sanlam Building in Strand Street into the Steve Biko Munford project Picture: EUGENE COETZEE
POSITIVE PURPOSE: The government is planning to transform the rundown Sanlam Building in Strand Street 

The long-awaited plan to revamp Port Elizabeth’s historic Sanlam Building into a social housing project in honour of Steve Biko will finally break ground next month.

The bold plan to convert the historic building in Strand Street into 220 rental housing units was first announced last year by Human Settlements MEC Helen Sauls-August.

It will be renamed after the black consciousness leader.

Yesterday, she reiterated her plans at the Bhisho Legislature, delivering her 2017-18 budget and policy speech.

Sauls-August’s spokesman Lwandile Sicwetsha confirmed yesterday that construction would commence next month.

“Last year, we did consultations. The institution had to finalise funding and meet criteria and assessment by the Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA),” he said.

“That process is being finalised this month so that the contractor can go on site.”

Meanwhile, more than R600-million has been allocated to develop 3 050 RDP and social housing units in the city, with some projects to commence from next month. “There are 12 running multi-year projects. These include Joe Slovo-Uitenhage, Rosedale, Joe Slovo West and Chatty,” Sauls-August said.

“Walmer Gqebera phase 1 enhanced peoples housing process project will be implemented and social housing projects will be implemented in Fairview Link Extension, Walmer Cosmo and the Steve Biko Building.”

Sauls-August said 11 090 housing units would be developed in the province, with a budget of R2.449-billion.

She also announced yesterday that her department had paid R255-million of the outstanding R303-million owed to housing contractors.

The contractors were paid after the projects were verified.

“The outstanding R48-million will be settled during the new financial year as will all other invoices submitted this month,” she said.

Sauls-August also announced that a multipurpose centre would be built for the Dr Beyers Naude municipality in Graaff-Reinet at an estimated cost of R7.7-million.

She said the Motherwell multipurpose centre had been completed and would be handed over to the municipality in the new financial year.

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