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Monday Aug 19, 2013

KZN residents eager to move to Cornubia

Two months after about 500 families were expected to move into KZN's biggest housing project, chaos reigned at the Cornubia development this week.

Cornubia will provide 24 000 homes once complete.

As construction workers worked around the clock to finish the first phase of the multibillion-rand project near uMhlanga, shack dwellers' movement member Abahlali baseMjondolo questioned whether it would be completed before the end of the year.

The chairman of the movement, S'bu Zikode, accused the city of creating high expectations and reneging on previous promises.

Most of the 50m homes, consisting of two bedrooms, a lounge, kitchen and a bathroom, did not have water or electricity pipes when The Independent on Saturday visited the site this week.

Some of the aluminium doors had not been fitted with handles and the flooring still needed to be completed in some units.

Construction workers said they were told that the first group of people were expected this week. 'But as you can see, we are nowhere near being finished, so whoever those people are can't move in as yet,' said Wiseman Mthethwa, one of the workers on site.

Low-cost RDP houses in Cornubia are far from completed, two months after the city said that the first batch of people would have moved in.

A total of 486 families were expected to move into Cornubia by June, and a further 2 186 families will be accommodated when the second phase of the project is completed.

The project is expected to provide 24 000 homes once complete.

Municipal spokesman Thabo Mofokeng conceded that the city had missed its June deadline. The delay, he said, had been caused by the housing allocation process.

'We're working on finalising the list of beneficiaries,' he said, adding that the city was optimistic that the list would be finalised by the end of the month.

Mofokeng would not divulge the allocation process, only saying that the municipality's housing policy would guide the allocation of houses to recipients.

The allocation and assessment process, he said, was being done by city officials and members of the human settlements committee.

'The housing policy prohibits councillors from being involved in housing allocation, as some councillors might be biased towards people from their area,' he said.

Earlier this year the chairman of the city's human settlement committee, Nigel Gumede, said people living in informal settlements situated near hazardous areas would be given first preference. The city has more than 140 000 shacks and 11 000 families living in transit camps.

Gumede conceded that they were fighting a losing battle when it came to shack eradication. The mushrooming of informal settlements was a challenge for the city to beef up its land invasion control.

'When the city builds a housing development, the shack owner moves into the house and leases out the shack,' Gumede said.

As the low-cost Cornubia project drags on, disgruntled shack dwellers have threatened to forcibly occupy it.

Long-standing tension over the allocation of RDP houses intensified last month when residents at the Kennedy Road, Cato Crest and Bottlebrush informal settlement embarked on a protest demanding to be relocated to Cornubia.

Jayraj Bachu, former ward councillor of Clare Estate and Reservoir Hills, accused the city of reneging on its promise to first relocate the informal settlements in his area.

Bachu said he had been told by city officials in 2009 that the first batch of houses to be ready in Cornubia would be allocated to the shack dwellers in Reservoir Hills and Clare Estate.

Mofokeng, however, said the city had not made such a promise to dwellers or councillors.

The Independent on Saturday


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