Joburg to upgrade all 180 informal settlements by 2014

By Proffesor Ndawonde

Johannesburg - The City of Johannesburg has pledged to upgrade all informal settlements in the city by 2014, says the city's Mayor Amos Masondo.

Addressing the media on Wednesday, Mayor Masondo said through its innovative Informal Settlement Formalisation and Upgrading Programme, the city will formalise all the 180 informal settlements comprising of more than 200 000 households.

He affirmed the city intends to improve the lives of people living in informal settlements by building quality houses or relocating them to areas with better conditions.

"The objective of the programme is to attend to all informal settlements within the city boundaries and to improve the living conditions of residents, including their health and safety.

"We are also seeking to make significant progress in the upgrading of services and infrastructure," said Mayor Masondo.

The programme would further ensure that all settlements within the municipality boundaries are legally recognised and that where settlements are hazardously or poorly located, alternative provision would be made.

Mayor Masondo added that the programme will ensure the city provides settlements that are structured in a way that will allow for the provision of bulk infrastructure, including water, electricity and roads.

"People must not only be provided with houses but they need social services like libraries, clinics, roads and other vital services.

"Therefore through these programme we intend to provide people from informal settlements with proper settlements and restore their dignity," he said.

The city has undertaken feasibility studies on approximately 70 percent of informal settlements which have been identified for the upgrading process.

The remaining 30 percent will be subject to detailed feasibility studies in the current financial year to establish the risk of remaining in the current location and also to establish the potential for in situ upgrading.

The city's Member of Mayoral Committee for Housing, Councilor Ruby Mathang said if the location is dangerous and the potential does not exist to upgrade in the location, the city will need to identify a new area for the relocation of the residents.

He added that this programme is also intended to encourage people to invest in their own resources in building houses, unlock resources located within the state and leverage private sector resources.

Councilor Mathang affirmed the city has formed a task team that will engage the community leadership in areas where there are problems like Diepsloot as well as private land owners to ensure that this programme was a success.

Meanwhile, the national Department of Human Settlement is anticipated to eradicate all the informal settlements across the country by 2014 in bid to meet the United Nation's Millennium Developmental Goals. - BuaNews