Ellis Street upgrade delayed
The renovation of the nine homes built in the mid-1920s was supposed to begin in May
The renovation of the historic Ellis Street houses in the Baakens Valley has been put on hold while the project is being “regularised,” according to Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA) spokesperson Luvuyo Bangazi.
The renovation of the nine homes built in the mid-1920s was supposed to begin in May as a catalyst for the agency’s ambitious plan to recreate “Old South End” with the rollout of a housing project on the south slope of the lower Baakens Valley.
But Bangazi confirmed that the agency, working on the project with the metro’s human settlements department, had hit a snag.
“There were things missed along the way and we have had to cancel the appointment of the construction team and put a hold on the project.
“We are not abandoning the project but we have to tick some boxes that were not ticked.”
The first issue involved checking the documentation held by the Ellis Street residents, he said.
“We need to check the validity of their leases. It’s not saying that they are invalid, it is about regularising the lease process which stretches from many years ago until today with different councils involved.”
Asked if this meant that the residents could be forced to move out, Bangazi said: “No – there is no conversation about moving anyone out.”
The second issue was that it had not yet been confirmed if the houses were on the metro’s assets register.
“We have to be sure they are registered to justify expenditure on renovating them.”
Lastly, the proposed budget had to be considered in relation to other renovation projects, he said. “There are certain restrictions on the money spent to rectify RDP houses. These are not RDP houses so it’s a grey area.”
The Ellis Street upgrade was announced in April as part of the agency’s grand Baakens rejuvenation plan.
This includes renovation of St Peter’s Church and St Mary’s Cemetery, a new traffic circle at the juncture of Lower Valley and Upper Valley roads, a paved recreation corridor linking Vuyisile Mini Square and the north bank of the Baakens River, a park and a bridge.
Bangazi said nothing had changed in this regard.
“This [Ellis Street upgrade] project is part and parcel of the Baakens rejuvenation plan.
“We’ve just hit a snag and we’re resolving it.”
Residents said they had been left confused and disappointed after the MBDA told them about the delay, at a meeting at the end of June.
Henry Swartz, 26, showed where his mother, Henrietta, had fallen through rotten floorboards in one of the bedrooms on Saturday.
“She was badly bruised and it could have been worse.”
He pointed out how water was escaping because the toilet was not firmly installed, as well as the sagging roof with multiple leaks and huge cracks in the back wall of the house.
“I am worried that the wall is going to fall down on us,” he said.