New technologies needed to deal with inhumane EC housing backlog

Issued by Sanele Magaqa, MPL
Shadow MEC for Human Settlements

The Eastern Cape Department of Human Settlements needs to embrace new technologies if it wishes to tackle the inhumane housing backlog affecting this province.

The Democratic Alliance will be lobbying the Department to accept new technologies, increase funding and further identify projects that can be implemented using new innovative ways of building houses.

Tens of thousands of households in the province are still living in inadequate, informal structures, with no access to even the most basic of services, as they wait, in vain, for the Department to deliver the houses they were promised decades ago.

In response to a parliamentary question, MEC of Human Settlements, Nonceba Kotsiwe, revealed that just five projects across the province have embraced new building technologies as part of their construction.

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MEC Kotsiwe revealed that the Department has not undertaken any study on the implementation of new innovative housing methods in other provinces in the country, nor has the Department undertaken a scientific study on the comparative cost of innovative and sustainable building technologies (ISBT.)

While the Division of Revenue Bill clearly states that two per cent of the Human Settlements Development Grant must be spent on ISBT projects, which equates to R30,8 million for the 2022/23 financial year, the Department has only allocated R4,9 million to ISBT.

Technological advances in building houses are delivering more cost-effective structures that can be erected faster, last longer and are more comfortable to live in. Technologies that incorporate more sustainable building materials, modular construction methods and even 3D printing, can significantly impact in the housing shortages we are experiencing.

The DA has repeatedly called for partnerships between the government and the private sector in the delivery of integrated human settlements.

Over the coming months, I will be engaging with other provinces on the new technologies that they have deployed and will be presenting these findings to the portfolio committee on human settlements.

It is simply unacceptable that the Department continues to drag its feet, insisting on doing things the same way and expecting different outcomes. The DA will continue to fight for our people to get the houses they have been promised and provide them a space where they can live in dignity.