Mpumalanga to meet revised housing target

Friday, February 20, 2009

Nelspruit - The Mpumalanga Provincial Government will this year meet its revised target of completing 13 682 housing units.

Delivering his State of the Province Address on Friday, Premier Thabang Makwetla said the progress that the provincial government had made last year put the province in a better position to complete all incomplete houses and resume the building of new housing projects in the new financial year.

"In addition to the accelerated delivery of incomplete houses, we will also complete 1 131 emergency houses to alleviate the distress and damage caused by the recent natural disasters that occurred in the province this year," the premier said.

He affirmed that 805 of the emergency houses had been built in the Bushbuckridge Municipality, an area of the province that was the hardest hit by the storms.

The delivery of housing to the people of the province, the premier said, was not only about the provision of shelter as a fundamental right, but it also speaks to government's commitment to alleviate poverty among the poor and vulnerable sectors of society.

Between January 2004 and January 2009, the provincial Department of Housing built 57 553 housing units, thereby providing shelter and enhancing the asset base for many poor and vulnerable families.

The premier said the provincial capabilities to accelerate the delivery of housing have been significantly enhanced by the turnaround interventions it has implemented in department.
In the previous year, the provincial government acknowledged serious capacity challenges that impeded the effective delivery of the province's housing programme.

The premier said as part of the intervention to enhance institutional capacity for the delivery of the housing programme entailed the reconstitution of the Department of Local Government and Housing into two distinct departments.

Meanwhile, Premier Makwetla told the provincial legislature that remarkable progress was being made in the delivery of basic services.

"Currently, 583 505 households have access to electricity and a total of 219 375 households have access to free basic electricity.

"Despite advancements we have made, the need to address the backlog of 242 059 households who do not have access to electricity still remains," the premier said.

As part of improving access to decent sanitation, the province was able to eradicate all bucket toilets in all formal areas and informal settlements.

To date, 18 617 bucket toilets were eradicated ahead of the stipulated national target of December 2007.