Qolweni housing gets going
PLETTENBERG BAY – The Qolweni housing project in Plettenberg Bay officially got underway when Western Cape MEC for Human Settlements Tertuis Simmers conducted a sod-turning ceremony on site on Monday 30 August.
The project has been a bone of contention for almost two years now with residents resorting to violent riots that brought the coastal holiday town to a standstill on various occasions, as locals expressed their unhappiness with the slow progress. While it was initially funded by Simmers' department, the completion was in the hands of the Bitou Municipality. Residents however demanded that the project be taken over by the department. This was officially done on 18 June.
This project, which has a budget allocation of R33,5-million excluding professional fees, was approved in October 2019. Construction of the 169 units had to commence in January 2021. Due to various challenges faced by the Bitou Municipality, the contractor they appointed, and community dynamics, this could not occur. After numerous community protests, the municipality handed the project over to Simmers' department. "Today's sod-turning is an exciting moment for the people of Qolweni," Simmers said at the event. "Now the most vulnerable, particularly the elderly and those living with medically certified disabilities, will have an opportunity to live in improved and safer conditions. This is only the start of our commitment we made to the community in June when this project was handed over to us. The entire Plettenberg Bay can undoubtedly celebrate this joyous occasion." He also called on all stakeholders to ensure that the project suffers no further hindrances or delays. "As the provincial and local spheres of government we're working together and trust that the community will fully participate in this development. This is particularly important in the protection and safeguarding of the site and all materials. Since taking the project over, we've had regular and transparent engagements with all stakeholders. We therefore call for dialogue, should any issue arise for any reason." Simmers said the project is expected to be concluded towards the end of 2022. "As the Western Cape government we remain committed to accelerating human settlement delivery, while promoting social inclusion through the development of integrated, safe, resilient and sustainable human settlements in an open society."
Acting Mayor Sandiso Gcabayi also expressed his delight at finally seeing the project off the ground after numerous delays. He confirmed that the Bitou Municipality committed to work with the provincial department and all stakeholders to see the project fully developed.
Ward 3 Councillor Xola Matyila called on the provincial government to assist with more housing projects for the residents of Qolweni as the 169 units would not cover the need for houses in this community. He also called for residents to cooperate so that the project can be implemented without any further delays.