New houses for Elliotdale residents

After years of waiting, residents of Elliotdale in the Eastern Cape are finally on the receiving end of new houses that will replace the old mud structures that they have called home.

Two hundred houses were handed over in the first phase of the Elliotdale Rural Sustainable Human Settlements Project recently, to beneficiaries who qualify for the government housing subsidy grant, as they fall in the income bracket between R3 500 to R7 500.

Eastern Cape Human Settlements MEC Helen Sauls-August, who handed over the houses, said it marked an important era in the rural development agenda for Elliot Dale, Mbhashe and broader Eastern Cape.

She said government’s presence at Elliotdale was intended to re-affirm the commitment government had made to improve the lives of South Africans.

“This handover will clearly contribute to an improved household life and a complete human settlements project with a sport field and a community centre for this village.

This is one of the few projects to have such amenities in our province,” Sauls-August pointed out.

While phase one saw the construction on 200 units, phase two will result in another 800. At the end of the project, 7 000 new homes will be built.

Toilets will also be erected as well as a sports field and community centre built.

The MEC urged those involved in the project to work hard to ensure that people were not forced to wait any longer than they had to for the services they had a right to.

“Let us not delay nor postpone service delivery, particularly the delivery of human settlements as most of our people have been waiting for many years for these services and are expecting us to deliver on their expectations,” she said.

The project did only result in houses for community members but also provided much needed jobs. This included 25 job opportunities for semi-skilled labourers, 22 for skilled labourers, 64 for youth, 68 for women and 90 for men.

With 7 000 beneficiaries expected to have new houses by the time for project is complete, many more employment opportunities are expected to come the way of local people.

Earlier this year, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said a number of projects were implemented in Elliotdale in the Mbashe Local Municipality, which is one of the 21 poorest district municipalities in the country.

At the Cabinet Lekgotla in July 2011, Cabinet identified 21 poorest district municipalities throughout the country and that the Amathole District – under which Elliotdale and the Mbashe Local Municipality fell – was among these, he noted.

“The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform has conducted socio-economic surveys in Elliotdale – namely Wards 18 and 28 in the Mbashe Local Municipality and a Community Profiling report has been produced,” he added.

A number of projects were being implemented in the area. These included household water connection across the Mbashe Local Municipality, including Elliotdale; a housing project in Elliotdale and the completion of 25 household gardens.

In addition, 50 hectares of arable land has been cultivated; the Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform is supporting the Elliotdale community with agricultural inputs; 10 km of fencing of arable lands has been completed and 15 cooperatives had been registered, Motlanthe said. – SAnews.gov.za