The DA has called on KwaZulu-Natal’s Department of Human Settlements, along with the Msunduzi Municipality, to immediately halt all development at a Bakerville Height housing project until proper public consultation has taken place with the community and a full Environmental Impact Assessment and infrastructure assessment is concluded.
The move comes after the DA’s recent oversight inspection of the site, located in Ward 30, where the department plans to build 115 housing units for military veterans as part of Phase 1 of the project.
Of particular concern is that work has begun at this site – including land excavation and putting up fencing – without any consultation with either the Ward councillor, Rachel Soobiah, or any public consultation with the community.
While the DA is aware that the deadline to find accommodation for military veterans is looming, it remains vital that processes and protocols are strictly adhered to. Regrettably, it appears that the Bakerville community have been side-lined in favour of military veterans’ housing needs.
What the community wants is engagement and discussion around fair allocations within this project.
This means the inclusion of local community members who are homeless, along with a percentage from each of the four local informal settlements – which house an estimated 6 000 people – and an allocation of 1% of the housing for military veterans. The entire project cannot simply be allocated to them given KZNs massive backlog in housing delivery.
Other immediate concerns raised by residents include the following;
· Whether the existing infrastructure is adequate to support additional housing and people in the area
· Whether all environmental tests have been conducted to ascertain the suitability of the site which sits on a slope and;
· Whether the site can withstand future flooding and the units will not end up collapsing onto other homes situated below.
The DA in KZN has long called for an open, transparent housing list so that every applicant can see where they are on the list at any given time. They should also be able to see who the first beneficiaries are in the event of any new housing developments in their communities.
The DA will be submitting written parliamentary questions to new Human Settlement MEC, Ntuthuko Mahlaba, calling for clarity around the Bakerville housing project and future housing plans for the people of this community.
Yet another question which needs answers is whether or not the Msunduzi municipality has developed and implemented its “Housing Allocation Policy and Procedure” – as indicated in their Housing sector plan of 2019.
The DA will be keeping a close watch on this project in the interim to ensure that desperately need housing are not abandoned by this ANC government.