Gauteng human settlements needs R20bn to fix 65 hostels

The Gauteng department of human settlements and infrastructure development needs R20-billion to fix the dilapidated infrastructure of all 65 hostels in the province. However, the department does not have this money.

This is according to the department’s MEC Lebogang Maile.

Violent protests over service delivery

Maile was speaking on Tuesday when he visited the Diepkloof hostel in Soweto to speak to the hostel leaders. This was following violent protests in the area on Monday, over basic service delivery issues at the hostel.

Maile said his department is committed to addressing the poor living conditions of the hostel’s residents.

He cited overpopulation as a factor that caused the infrastructure of hostels in the province to decay.

“The province has 65 hostels, and none of them are habitable. We have started doing bulk assessment in all the hostels. The population has increased in all hostels and the bulk infrastructure is not enough to sustain the residents. It needs to be expanded.

Not enough money to fix hostels

“We need R20-billion to fix the bulk infrastructure in all hostels. We do not have R20-billion. Our budget is R5-billion to do all manner of [repairs and refurbishments],” said Maile.

He said with the R5-billion budget, the department attends to issues pertaining to the more than 700 informal settlements it has. This includes the 1,2 million people in the province in need of housing.

Maile said the department is only able to build 10,000 houses per year with the budget it currently has.

He said he had a fruitful meeting with the leaders of Diepkloof hostel. They all agreed that on a follow up meeting on Thursday at the hostel.  It will be between Maile, City of Joburg mayor Kabelo Gwamanda, and City of Joburg human settlements MMC Anthea Leitch. The agenda is to outline concrete plans to resolve the deplorable living conditions of the hostel.

Work being done to address the issues

“There is work being done by the department. Part of the work includes looking at least at the top three priority issues in each hostel. We need R3-billion in the immediate to fix these [top three] issues in each hostel. We do not have that money. However, we have six hostels in our books [at the] provincial government. We have allocated R500-million to fixing the immediate challenges at these six hostels. As we speak, there is work happening there.

“We cannot leave people to live in such conditions [at Diepkloof Hostel]. Some of the buildings are on the verge of collapsing. We have to look at these buildings and immediately evacuate people. But if we evacuate them, where are we going to take them? We need to find a tangible solution. We won’t solve these issues overnight. The good thing is that we have a hostel leadership that is reasonable.

Reasonable hostel leadership

“They told us that they do not expect us as government to fix their issues overnight, and they understand we have budget constraints. But they were asking us ‘what are you doing tangibly to show that you are addressing our issues’? We are happy that we met with a reasonable and sensible leadership.

“In some instances, you get people who are unreasonable and want things that are impossible. Because of the type of leadership that has been displayed here, we are happy. We are confident that on Thursday when we meet, we will find a solution. …We will then communicate with the whole community on what needs to happen,” said Maile. 

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