DESPITE mounting pressure from poor residents of Port Elizabeth’s Walmer township, it could be months before the government delivers on demands for housing, electricity and sanitation as the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality tries to get its hands on land earmarked for development.
The municipality is in talks with the owners of the Walmer Country Club and neighbouring erf 11305, which they are eyeing for housing development, as residents had made it clear they did not want to relocate from their current dwellings.
During Friday’s service delivery meeting with premier Noxolo Kiviet and Bay residents – where the premier continued to lambast protesters – mayor Zanoxolo Wayile said despite a plan to address Walmer residents’ housing and sanitation needs, the land was "still an issue”.
"The land remains an issue because there is only a small piece of land that belongs to the municipality there,” he said.
Wayile’s spokesman, Luncedo Njezula, said they were hoping to reach an agreement with the landowners in three months.
"Our intention is to negotiate with the landowners as soon as possible and to have made headway in three months’ time,” he said.
Human Settlements MEC Helen Sauls-August also raised the issue of limited land belonging to the municipality, saying it posed a "major challenge” to the government’s efforts to provide housing.
"We are addressing the problems of the metro and the mayor has made inroads [with some of the residents in trying to make them understand this] but it is all a work in progress,” she said.
"The lack of land belonging to the municipality is a major challenge and we will have to sit down and investigate how we can go about tackling it.
"The more developed the metro becomes, the more people migrate here and so the housing demand increases.”
Kiviet continued to lambast protesters, saying they were a deterrent to investment, and likened them to ungrateful children.
"When you burn tyres demanding housing, you damage the tar roads which cost R10-million per kilometre to fix. How many houses could have been built with that money?”