Move to beef up metro housing department

The metro’s human settlements committee hopes to use R9.2-million meant for services to prepare the city for taking over the function of building houses in July next year.

At a special human settlements committee meeting yesterday, portfolio head Nqaba Bhanga warned that should the department not be ready to take over the function, the city would ask for an extension.

The move to use the money comes after city manager Johann Mettler wrote to national Human Settlements directorgeneral Mbulelo Tshangana asking for money to capacitate the department.

At present the function to build houses lies with the Housing Development Agency.

“A major problem in the city is that we don’t have the internal capacity [to build houses] as human settlements,” Bhanga said.

“If we are given the authority to build houses in July and we are not ready, the city will ask national government to extend the contract.”

Bhanga said they hoped that when the intervention by national government came to an end next year, the city would be ready to take over.

  • The money will be used to establish a project management unit responsible for:Enhancing institutional capacity before and after the takeover; Managing grant funding;  Identifying and packaging land for residential, development and other land uses;
  • Emergency housing and relocations; and
  • Roll-out of the national housing needs register and proactive planning.

The request was approved by the committee yesterday and will be taken to the mayoral committee before it is tabled at the next council meeting.

EFF councillor Zilindile Vena said the move was a very important and progressive one.

DA councillor Mxolisi Breakfast said the party welcomed the efforts.

ANC councillor Nomsa Booi suggested the municipality reinstate some suspended officials to speed up the process.

“There are people who have capacity such as the likes of [suspended housing delivery boss Mvuleni] Mapu who are suspended without any findings – perhaps they can be brought back and assist as this is urgent,” Booi said.

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