THE metro human settlements meeting scheduled for September 21 did not take place due to the lack of a quorum of councillors who serve on this committee. All the DA councillors and the Cope councillor who serve on the committee, together with the officials, were present and waiting for the meeting to commence at 10am.
It was unfortunate that the majority of the ANC councillors were not present and, worse still, that the two ANC councillors present left the venue when they established that their ANC colleagues were not in attendance and, consequently, that the ANC did not have a majority of members at the meeting. After waiting 20 minutes in terms of the council's rules of order, the meeting was abandoned.
It is ironic that in the past the chairman of the committee lambasted officials for not being present. On Friday it was heartening to see all the senior human settlements officials present.
The abandonment of the meeting was particularly distressing as each of the human settlements meetings address important issues that relate to housing delivery. It is well documented that the metro faces a backlog of 92000 units and a further 40000 RDP units built since 1995 have been classified as "defective" by an independent consultant.
The situation is exacerbated by the fact that people are living in atrocious and life-threatening conditions in areas such as the Chatty floodplain, Fitchet's Corner, Airport Valley in Walmer Township and the old New Brighton refuse tip site. These residents need to be relocated as a matter of urgency to safe and secure living conditions.
One of the items which was to be considered and debated at Friday's meeting was the performance of the metro's human settlements department. It was imperative that the officials received some guidance from the councillors serving on the committee as to the steps that should be taken to improve performance and service delivery.
A few of the aspects relating to poor performance in housing delivery are:
ýThe annual target for delivery of low-cost housing was 3600 units, while the actual delivery was only 1682 units. The reason given by the officials for the poor performance was the delay in payments by the provincial government;
ýSocial housing development was targeted at 300 units while a mere 61 had been completed by June 20. The reason given for under-performance was the service delivery protests in Walmer;
ýThe number of households to be relocated from stressed informal settlements was targeted at 1200 for the year, while only 69 families were relocated;
ýThe annual target for the repairing of defective houses was 6325 units, yet only 1133 houses were repaired. The reason given for the under-performance was the delays in payments by the provincial department of human settlements.
With inadequate service delivery rife in the metro, it is difficult to comprehend why ANC councillors do not have the interests of the communities that elected them at heart and disdainfully ignore important metro standing committee meetings.
Service delivery to all the citizens of the metro is rapidly deteriorating and this is so particularly to the poorest of the poor. It is no wonder that the disadvantaged communities are becoming frustrated and angry.
The metro can brace itself for more such service delivery protests unless the ANC members are seen to accept their responsibilities. The least they can do is to turn up at council meetings.
Andrew Gibbon, DA spokesman on housing, NMMM