New impetus to get Despatch project off the ground

Infrastructure and engineering political head Andile Lungisa, left, Sakhisizwe Renewable Energy owner and developer William Charles, centre, and Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani at the Florida Heights development project site outside Despatch.
Infrastructure and engineering political head Andile Lungisa, left, Sakhisizwe Renewable Energy owner and developer William Charles, centre, and Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani at the Florida Heights development project site outside Despatch.
Image: SUPPLIED

It has been nearly a year since the sod-turning ceremony of the Florida Heights housing project near Despatch, but no progress has been made.

The project, meant to start in December 2017, has been delayed.

A record of decision — which shows that the site meets all the standards required for construction in the area — between the developer and the department of environmental affairs, is still outstanding.

On Friday Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani, who once again pledged R100m towards the mixed-housing development, said the process was being finalised and it would be about three weeks before the project could begin.

Bobani said the coalition government was excited despite naysayers who had already declared the development a flop.

Phase one would house more than 1,000 families and was expected to be completed in five years.

On paper, phase two — which would take at least 15 years to complete — would include a further 14,000 residential opportunities.

Developer and Sakhisizwe Renewable Energy owner William Charles said he had been part of the consortium that played a role in developing the port of the original Ngqura.

“We said we would continue with this project uninterrupted and unapologetic. Today we are here launching the project,” Bobani said.

Speaking directly to SMMEs, Bobani said they would benefit and be prioritirised.

“It seems as if in this metro that when you talk about SMMEs you're talking about killers, disrupters, hungry lions, but people often forget that big contractors erecting buildings use SMMEs for laying the foundation and bricks on those buildings,” he said.

Bobani was accompanied by infrastructure and engineering political head Andile Lungisa as well as Charles at the site where Phase 1 of the development would be built on the outskirts of Despatch.

Lungisa said this was a catalytic project that would create 11,000 jobs in the metro over a five-year period.

Charles said the project had been 11 years in the making.

“Florida Heights used to be a private catalytic project started by the national department of human settlements.

“We reached a stage where it ticked all the boxes so we decided to make it a metro project, a state-driven project whereby we as Sakhisizwe would become an implementation agent of the metro.

“We're just waiting for one letter from the department of environmental affairs then it's all systems go,” he said.

Charles said Phase one consisted of 741 rental units, 200 units for military vets and RDP houses, four mixed-use business sites and a mall the size of the Kenako Mall in Zwide.

He said the project would take five years and complied with the department of human settlements national quota system as well as that of the municipality.

Bobani said the R100m needed for bulk infrastructure to go towards the project was available.

“The money is there. It was approved in the 2019-2020 budget”.

Lungisa said the metro had a housing backlog of 87,000 houses and the Florida Heights project would assist the city in tackling that backlog.

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