Alicedale finally set to get RDP houses

Alicedale in Makana municipality will soon receive its first low-cost government housing development in 20 years with the construction of 338 units.

The town, a railway junction between Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown, has not received a government housing development since 1996 due to a long- standing stalemate over land rights between the national Department of Public Works and Makana municipality.

However, the department recently released a portion of Donkerhoek farm to the municipality to build the RDP houses and a reservoir.

Makana municipality spokeswoman Yoliswa Ramokolo said: “After a long struggle for Makana municipality to get the transfer of a portion of Donkerhoek farm for the housing development in Alicedale, the Department of Public Works has finally agreed to the transfer.

“Alicedale has not had any housing development since 1996 – this is a big milestone for that community, which has been a cry in all the mayoral imbizos held in the area.”

Ramokolo said the application for the project development would start as soon as town planning processes were finished.

She said town planning manager Reinier van der Merwe had confirmed that an Environmental Impact Assessment had already been done.

Ramokolo said the ministerial approval for the release of the land was granted by the department subject to certain conditions.

These included that the municipality build the houses in consultation with the Department of Human Settlements; that the land be transferred without rights to minerals; that Makana bear all costs of the transfer of the land; and that should it not be used for the intended purpose, it shall revert back to Public Works.

Alicedale’s South African Civics Organisation (Sanco) chairman Dickson Ncipa said the houses built in 1996 were a project of the then Transitional Local Government formed after 1994.

After the council was dissolved, Alicedale merged with small settlements like Riebeek East, Fort Brown and Salem, and was incorporated into Makana municipality.

Ncipa said they would not hold their breath about the new development.

“Makana municipality can’t even refurbish houses that were destroyed by a tornado in 1998. A contractor they hired recently left before the job was even started because they couldn’t pay them,” he said.

“A lot of housing development happens in Grahamstown.

“We see a lot of development in that town but it doesn’t happen this side.”

Grahamstown-based Public Service Accountability Monitoring, a watchdog organisation, welcomed the news about the developments.

Housing researcher Thoko Sipunga said: “The provision of adequate housing to those who need it is always great news. It is truly sad that 22 years into our democracy, the right to adequate housing remains unfulfilled for many people.”

Sipunga said the news was “a small step” in the face of a growing housing backlog.

“I sincerely hope that bureaucratic processes will not delay the development any further.”

Both Makana municipality and the Department of Public Works failed to answer questions about the land rights delays yesterday. —


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