Ilitha township residents lose hope as project falls 3 years behind schedule

By Bongani Fuzile

A controversial housing project in Ilitha township southwest of Berlin, which is meant to replace over 200 decaying wooden homes built in the 1970s by the Ciskei homeland government, is now three years past its deadline.

TO BE REPLACED: Buffalo City Metro is fast tracking the process of building houses for residents of Ilitha township , whose wooden houses build by the Ciskei homeland government are in a state of decay. Picture: BONGANI FUZILE

The R26-million project, mired in bitter fighting, is to have seen 224 wooden homes replaced with 262 modern and permanent structures.

On Friday, BCM city manager Andile Sihlahla published the names of 58 housing beneficiaries in the Daily Dispatch, giving them 30 working days to present themselves at the human settlements department in King William’s Town for a discussion about their housing subsidy.

There has been concern from Ilitha residents about who is to benefit first. There were also allegations that those who were close to ward 45 councillor Thozamile Norexe were prioritised over those whose need was greater.

In addition, there were allegations that government employees and employed people were occupying finished houses while the elderly and destitute were struggling to access them.

Councillor Norexe was one of the people who spearheaded the demolishing of the wooden houses but yesterday, despite numerous calls and a text message, he had not responded at the time of going to print.

According to documents seen by the Dispatch, the project was started in November 2013 and was suppose to have been completed by November 2014.

For the past four years the project has been tainted by allegations of corruption that have delayed construction.

By 2015, only 40 houses had been demolished and residents were fuming.

A company employed to do the work blamed the delay on ongoing service delivery unrest in the area. The company has asked for an extension to complete the work.

Last year it was the same story, with work progressing at a snail’s pace. Residents have lost hope that the project will ever be finished.

lIlitha residents can contact Thobile Witbooi of BCM on 043-604-8325 or visit the KWT civic centre’s office, room number 105, between 8am-4.30pm from Monday to Friday for assistance. — bonganif@dispatch.co.za

-Dispatch Live

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