Metro pledges R100m towards bulk infrastructure for housing development
● Municipality pledges R100m towards bulk infrastructure for R10bn housing development
The Nelson Mandela Bay municipality has thrown its weight behind the R10bn Florida Heights housing development project, pledging R100m toward bulk infrastructure.
A sod-turning event was held at the site, on the outskirts of Despatch, on Wednesday.
The project was not included in the city’s 2018/2019 budget.
Mayor Mongameli Bobani said the project, to be developed by Sakhisizwe Renewable Energy, would create 11,000 jobs in the metro.
It is not yet clear when the project will get off the ground as a record of decision between the developer and the department of environmental affairs is still outstanding.
Bobani said the metro would put up the bulk infrastructure for the “catalytic” project and it would result in jobs for thousands, and opportunities for small business owners.
“R100m is a tip of the iceberg in a project that would employ 11,000 people from your communities,” he said.
“We can be able to explain to our taxpayers that we love [that] this is what your money is doing and the revenue that this project is going to create is R400m.
“Ratepayers want value for their money and all they want is for their money to be in good hands.”
He said the development would speed up housing delivery, considering the city had an 80,000 housing backlog.
“Our quest is to return to our people their cherished dignity. We have to speed up service delivery with extreme urgency.
“Our people are living in shacks, our people don’t have toilets, they relieve themselves in these bushes and they don’t have water.”
He said the project would help black women SMMEs and black companies to be players in the mainstream economy.
The objective of the new coalition was dealing with radical spacial transformation through integrated development planning by empowering previously disadvantaged communities, he said.
Phase one would house more than 1,000 families and was expected to be completed in five years.
On paper, phase two – which would take at least 15 years to complete – would include a further 12,030 residential opportunities.
Developer William Charles, owner of Sakhisizwe Renewable Energy, said he had been part of the consortium that did the original Ngqura harbour.
He said the new project had gone through a rigorous process and due diligence was approved by the department of human settlements and the National Treasury in 2016.
Environmental issues for phase one had caused delays for the project that was meant to have broken ground a year ago.
“There was a record of decision here but we have reconfigured the project to allow for densification so there can be more people here.
“We are finalising that process through doing a basic assessment to make sure nothing changes from the original ROD [record of decision] issued.”
The Municipal Finance Management Act says before a municipality can enter into an agreement with a private business:
● A feasibility study needs to be done;
● Two months before the matter is taken to council for approval, it has to be made available for public participation;
● The report must explain the financial benefits for the municipality; and ● Input must be obtained from the Treasury and various other national departments.
Asked why the municipality was funding a privately owned development and if the metro had any guarantees in place to ensure that development would take place, Bobani said the R100m was value for money as it would create jobs.
“It’s going to create 11,000 jobs. What more do you want? It’s a huge investment and it’s not money wasted.
“I’m not sure which guarantees you are looking for, but I can be able to say the project is guaranteed, it is going to take place.
“We are here right now, and when we come back next year we’ll be able to see the development taking place.
“This project is having the nod from the national government and is one of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s stimulus projects.
“We had meetings with the province and they are in full support of the project.
“This was approved in the human settlements committee and in council.
“You can’t do a sod-turning ceremony, without the project being approved.
“By whom? This project has been approved by the national department of human settlement, province, council and the president,” Bobani said.
‘Our quest is to return to our people their cherished dignity’ Mongameli Bobani
NELSON MANDELA BAY MAYOR
GETTING STARTED: Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani, second from right, does the honours at the Florida Heights sod-turning ceremony. With him, from left, are Pearl Ezeike, the Rev Henderson Bisiwe, William Charles and Andile Mfunda