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FS govt to avail more land for housing

The Department of Public Works, Infrastructure and Human Settlement says it plans to avail more land for housing and accelerate the issuing of title deeds, following a very challenging financial year.

Tabling her 2021/22 budget at a function at Koppies in Welkom on Tuesday under the theme ‘Growing the Free State Together during the Period of Covid-19’, MEC Motshidise Koloi said the department would focus on ensuring that more sites are available to give people opportunities to build houses for themselves.

“We have been told repeatedly through our National Housing Needs Register and in our other interactions with communities that most people are asking for sites,” said Koloi.

She added although the number of housing units to be constructed has been greatly reduced as a result of a policy shift, the Covid-19 pandemic, and a reduced budget, her department would continue to build houses for those in need and prioritise vulnerable groups.

The department is committed to completing 2 237 housing units across the province at a cost of R334 824 146.

In alignment with policy and the current economic climate, the department is compelled to prioritise vulnerable groups that include the elderly, people living with disability, child-headed households, and those in direst situations.

The MEC’s office is working closely with the municipalities across the Free State to address the issue of title deeds.

“Let me reiterate the fact that we are addressing the backlog and the issuing of new title deeds simultaneously. We aim to provide title deeds instantly as sites are completed, and work steadfastly and methodically to issue title deeds in the backlog. Several reasons contributed to this backlog and I can assure this house that my department is working with municipalities to address these challenges,” noted Koloi.

She explained R3 021 700 would be spent on 2 126 new or current title deeds.

A backlog of 2 591 title deeds has been allocated R21 736 040 for dispute resolutions and litigations to “ensure that we slowly eradicate this amount of backlog title deeds.”

Almost 5 000 families will have proof of ownership of their homes in the 2021/22 financial year.

The Title Deed Restoration Grant ceases at the end of this current financial year, and the title deeds backlog would be incorporated into the Human Settlements Development Grant, the MEC indicated.

“We work with the Office of Speaker in various municipalities to ensure that title deeds reach their owners and plead with communities to visit their local municipal offices,” she said.

To give impetus to the land release programme, Koloi’s office has allocated R60 million to acquire 1001.7486 hectares of land for residential sites during the 2021/22 financial year.

“The plight of our people for land ownership has been this government’s priority as part of redressing the effects of the 1913 Land Act that dispossessed our people of the land from which they lived sustainably. It is upon land ownership that our response to poverty eradication, job creation and homeownership lies,” said pointed out.

The department further plans to spend R30 million towards bulk infrastructure development in Welkom.

Koloi added the Development of Mining Towns programme is one of the government’s presidential initiatives to resuscitate the economy in Welkom and create sustainable jobs, provided much-needed homes and decent human settlements, as well as  infrastructure for improved services.

By: Neo Ntsele