Cambridge West housing project grinds to a stop

The controversial low-cost housing development happening in Cambridge West has come to stand still as a result of contractual disputes between Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality and main contractor, Express Builders CC.

Spokesperson for BCMM, Samkelo Ngwenya said, “The contractor has abandoned the site and hasn’t returned after various warning notices have been issued to the contractor to return to the site.

“The matter of cancelling the contract for non-performance is under consideration by BCMM and a full report on this contract will be sent to council for noting.”

Contracts manager at Express Builders CC, Banele Yawa responded, “The project is on hold for now due to misunderstandings and challenges we have with the municipality.

“We have tried many times to arrange a meeting with the municipality but to no luck.”

This puts the project on ice much to relief of the community who opposed the development.

Despite close proximity to the Amalinda nature reserve, the land was marked for mixed development.

The site is located over the Nyala bridge at the Cambridge West and Amalinda junction between the N2 and R102 bordered by the N2 and the Voortrekker road.

The project was established to address the findings of the BCMM Housing Sector Plan that indicates a backlog of 121,000 housing units.

The 275 units that have been built are allocated for the those who were forcibly removed under the previous Ciskei government.

The community believes the development will affect crime rates, existing infrastructure, the character of the area, the nature reserve and property values.

Residents objections include the probability of additional informal structures being erected, the development affecting road safety, property values being lowered, and houses being occupied by those other than the intended recipients.

In response, project environmental control officer, SPM Environment, said that traffic assessment reports and environmental impact assessment reports have been conducted and, if required, will be incorporated into the operations of the project.

SPM Environment said, “The development will also help to remove racial and affordability barriers set by the apartheid government since the development will cater for lower to middle class workers who will stay adjacent to a high to very high-class community.

“The developer may feel that these objections are mostly based on racial grounds.”

Resident Cuan Bow said, “Every person in the community, regardless of race, objected to the development.

“I have poured my heart and soul and built up my property with own two hands but when I got an estate agent to evaluate my property she told me that I’ve lost R200,000-R250,000 on my property instantly as a result of this development.

“The size of the houses they plan to build here are not even houses that uphold people’s dignity. The houses are small and will force people to live on top of each other.

“If you want to give people houses give them proper houses.”

Penny Lindstrom of Penny Lindstrom Valuations CC said that housing in Cambridge West is in high demand given locality and she believes that low-cost housing in the area will not have a detrimental impact on property value.

Ward councillor for the Amalinda/Cambridge area, Ntsika Qali supports the housing project.

“My office is excited by the work of the government in responding to the call of needy, especially those who were robbed of their houses by the previous government.

“Every project has its challenges but in the end, the project will be completed,” Qali said.

ON HOLD: The site of the housing development.

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