By Clayton Barnes – Cape Argus
Residents of the N2 Gateway housing scheme in Langa say they have been forgotten.
The once-secure government housing complex next to the N2 is now a dump, says Mbuyi Nogahtshi, who moved to the area in 2005, just after it was opened by former housing minister Lindiwe Sisulu.
“I clearly remember the day I moved in here. I was so happy. My life had changed and I thought the government was finally delivering on its promises. But I didn’t expect just to be left here without any services. The first few months were okay, but now this place is a dump. Our kids are not safe and the houses are falling apart,” Nogahtshi said.
Started in March 2005, the N2 Gateway was the pilot scheme for a new Comprehensive Housing Plan (CHP) launched by former president Thabo Mbeki.
The CHP was envisaged as a joint venture by the national, provincial and local governments to prioritise housing.
The N2 Gateway planned to deliver 22 000 homes within six months. This was later downgraded in 2007 to just over 16 000.
To date, only 7 462 houses have been completed and handed to beneficiaries. A further 1 194 are at various stages of construction in Joe Slovo and Delft.
An auditor-general’s report compiled in 2008 and tabled in Parliament in April 2009 revealed that the project had “not been managed economically, efficiently or effectively”.
A memorandum of understanding was signed by the three tiers of government in 2005 to define roles and responsibilities.
However, the A-G found that the necessary legislation and policies were not in place when construction began. The memorandum was also found not to clearly define different roles, which led to uncertainties about accountability when things went wrong.
In March 2009, state-owned housing company Thubelisha, which had implemented the project, closed down and the Housing Development Agency took over.
During a visit to the N2 Gateway in Langa on Friday, residents complained about cracked walls, leaking roofs and ceilings that “gave in” a year after they moved in.
Thousands of residents of the Joe Slovo informal settlement, across the road from the Gateway precinct, say they will accept anything, and have even considered moving into duplexes owned by FNB which have been empty for three years.
The 43 two- and three-bedroomed duplexes, only metres from the N2 Gateway scheme, were built in 2007. They had all been sold, according to Housing MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela, but home owners could not move in until the city reconstructed road servitudes.
Sophia Mhlangu, a pensioner who moved into the in 2006, said there were a number of building defects which she reported to the developers after moving in.
“It’s even worse now,” she said. “It’s a lovely place, but we feel forgotten. All we want is for them to fix the defects and have the roads fixed. There are potholes everywhere.”
Steven Lennox, who lives in a one-bedroomed apartment with his wife, pays R700 a month. He said he had complained to the Housing Department about the defects, but was still waiting for answers.
“It’s as if they don’t care,” said Lennox.
Madikizela said: “We are aware of the defects and are busy fixing them. That land belongs to the city, which has a land availability agreement with a contractor. That contract expires at the end of the month.
“The city will then have to decide on one of two options: either they ask us (the provincial government) to assist with funding and to appoint a service provider, or they transfer the land to us.”
Madikizela said the province and the city were waiting for the present land availability agreement to lapse before they took action.
“Next month, we will know for sure what our next step will be.” – Cape Argus