The Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation is underway with their project to relocate some South Africans living in densly populated informal settlements to temporary homes in response to COVID-19. This comes in light of the fact that many people living in informal settlements are not able to practice social distancing nor are afforded the basics of water and sanitation that would allow them to effectively decrease their risk of contracting COVID-19.
The department had presented a preliminary plan to parliament in which they identified areas that they would target. Areas in the Gauteng region include Stjwetla informal settlement in Alexandra, and informal settlements in Diepsloot and Zandspruit.
Earlier this week Minister Lindiwe Sisulu shared images on her Twitter account on the progress the department is making. She writes:
“These are the emergency houses we are giving, especially for the elderly that would opt out of informal settlements. We prioritize the elderly because they are the most vulnerable. “
She also explains that the houses being built stand on land next to the location of the informal settlements so that those who are moved into the temporary homes are not detached from their communities. Additionally the elderly will be prioritised as they are the most vulnerable during this time
“We hope the commuties work with us. In that way we will curb the spread of this virus.” Says Sisulu.
Earlier today the MEC of Human Settlements, Corporate Governance and Urban Planning, Mr Lebohang Maile and Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, Cllr Geoff Makhubo were set to join Minister Lindiwe Sisulu on a site visit to Plot 323 in Wilgespruit where Temporary Residential Units are also being built to accommodate families who have been living in tents for close to 4 years according to Sisulu.
Yesterday the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality relocated elderly and disabled people from shacks into 10 temporary housing structures located in serviced sites in Motherwell NU29.
The intention is for these structures to be transitional and turned into permanent units so as to avoid repeating the process in the event of another pandemic says McIntosh Polela, spokesperson for Department of Human Settlements.
““We are also exploring shipping containers as well as other structures that can be put up and be ready to accommodate people in the shortest time.”