Promise of new homes for Dunoon residents

Currently, social distancing is impossible as the shacks are very close to one another.

Thousands of Dunoon residents will now be moved to a nearby permanent housing site, the provincial government announced.

This follows an earlier announcement by Human Settlements MEC Tertuis Simmers that residents from informal settlements in Dunoon and Kosovo would be moved to temporary sites as part of government efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

At the end of March, Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said the government had identified 3 000 hectares of land across the country to relocate people in overcrowded settlements.

Ms Sisulu’s announcement drew a mixed response in Dunoon. Some asked why it took a global pandemic for the state to realise their living conditions were unacceptable.

On Sunday April 19, Mr Simmers said plans had changed, and the relocated Dunoon and Kosovo residents would be getting permanent homes, not temporary ones, on the site behind the Racing Park business centre. There’s no site yet for the Kosovo residents.

The temporary residential units (TRUs) to be built on the site will now be known as transitional residential units and will be a mix of three-storey flats and single-storey houses built with insulated modular panels made of expanded polystyrene covered by metal plates on both sides.

Beneficiaries from Dunoon and Kosovo informal settlements would be identified using the City’s housing demand database, Mr Simmers said.

“They will not return to their current homes. Instead, qualifying beneficiaries will be afforded an opportunity in one of our new units that will be built. These projects were already in the pipeline for implementation, the Covid-19 pandemic coupled with the national Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation’s request to re-block the overcrowded area, has necessitated that we immediately accelerate the upgrading process to combat the spread of the virus,” he said.

Province and the City are meanwhile looking for other sites to temporarily house people from informal settlements.

Mayoral committee member for human settlements Malusi Booi visited some of the sites on Friday April 17. Mr Simmers, Ms Sisulu and Mr Booi visited the earmarked site for the Dunoon development on Monday April 20.

“The idea is to help qualifying residents in some of the most over-populated and high-risk areas across the metro by moving them to healthier accommodation spaces where essential services are easier to deliver. This is also in an effort to make it easier to implement physical distancing to help reduce the spread of Covid-19,” Mr Booi said.

Yanga Nkohla, a community leader in Dunoon’s Ekupholeni informal settlement, said it would be a great initiative for the beneficiaries but it would not fix overcrowding in Dunoon.

“I’m glad that the government found a place closer to where they live now and people won’t have to travel from long distances to get to work. But I know more people will just keep flocking into Dunoon. The more people get moved away from the area, the spaces left by them will just be filled by others.

“Authorities need to move people from squatter camps to the new homes and make sure they remove the shacks in that particular area. This will be a better way to do it because they can then secure the land quickly and there will be no invasion of land,” he said.

Mr Simmers said there were several subsidy options for beneficiaries and priority would be given to the most vulnerable, including the elderly and disabled.

It’s not known how long the homes will take to build or when construction will start, according to Mr Simmers’s spokesman, Marcellino Martin.

Tabletalk asked how many people would be moved; whether the project would go out to tender, how much it would cost and where the money would come from, but Mr Martin said the department would give more specific details in due course.

“It’s critical that we follow due process with regards to stakeholder engagement and procurement processes,” he said.