Doubts grow over Bay mega-housing plan

Nelson Mandela Bay Housing
Nelson Mandela Bay Housing
Image: Herald Photographer

Confusion reigns around a Nelson Mandela Bay mega-housing project amid increasing doubt whether the R1.3-billion Florida Heights housing development will actually see the light of day.

The Department of Human Settlements dropped a bombshell, revealing the project was not on its list of catalytic developments for the near future.

This means the huge bill will not be funded by the national department. It is also not going to be funded by the municipality, with the metro first directing media queries to the national department and then to the provincial department of human settlements.

“The municipality is not responsible for this development,” spokesman Mthubanzi Mniki said.

Provincial department spokesman Lwandile Sicwetsha could not provide specifics on the project, saying it was still in planning.

“There are still internal processes that are under way and therefore the project is not yet ready for implementation,” Sicwetsha said.

Touted as the “first of its kind in the Eastern Cape”, the project was earmarked for vacant land on the outskirts of Despatch, potentially creating thousands of direct and indirect jobs.

Phase one would house more than 1 000 families.
On paper, phase two – which would take at least 15 years to complete – would include a further 12 030 residential opportunities.

Initial hopes were that building would have started in November.

Metro human settlements political head Nqaba Bhanga said this was due to various obstacles.

“A technical team has been set up to assist the municipality to help find solutions to the problems.”

A national housing department spokesman said the only approved government-led catalytic projects were to be built in Algoa Park, Duncan Village in the Buffalo City Municipality, Jachtvlakte, KwaNobuhle, along the N2 in Port Elizabeth, and in Zanemvula.

The approved developments were in various stages of implementation, he said.

Developer William Charles said his company, Sakhisizwe Construction, was awaiting the results of a review proposal on environmental issues for phase one.

Environmental Affairs spokesman Albi Modise said a decision would be made on or before May 5.