Gatesville residents receive an update on the rental stock from Minister Simmers
Earlier this week, on Monday 8 August, the Provincial Minister of Infrastructure, Tertuis Simmers, went on a walk-about visiting tenants of Gatesville, which forms part of the Department’s rental stock.
The Minister’s visit follows his proclamation of October 2019, when the Department wrote off rental arrears amounting to R1.6 million, which included a rental freeze for 69 pensioners. The freeze on the increases means that to date, each pensioner has saved up to R62 000 from rental increments. This formed part of the Minister’s commitment to a gradual transfer of ownership to qualifying tenants. However, before transfers can be done, the department needed to embark on a project plan to refurbish and upgrade the 136 units.
The two-hour walk-about by the Minister and officials was to determine the extent of the internal and external damage to some of the rental units. The delegation was led by the Gatesville Flats Project Steering Committee (PSC) members Ms. J Andrews and Ms. F Veerasamy, pursuant to engagements, where they had outlined their concerns to the Minister. The impromptu inspection included looking at plumbing, structural matters and other issues, as well as areas that were improved at residents’ costs, such as gardening and installation of new window frames.
The oversight visit was concluded with a public meeting at the Rylands Civic Hall, where the Minister provided feedback on the ownership and construction plans for the rental stock, as well as progress made since October 2019. An estimated budget has been allocated for the upgrading of the units, and a formal announcement on the final budget will be made once a contractor has been appointed. The construction phase of the project is set to be completed by the end of financial year 2023/2024. This will be followed, with the sale of units or transfer of ownership to qualifying beneficiaries in accordance to the human settlements’ beneficiary selection criteria. With a large portion of tenants being below the age of sixty (60) years old, it is expected that the forms of ownership will vary. Whilst it is the department’s intentions to sell all the units, the subsidy options will depend on the beneficiary profile. Individual tenant surveys are currently underway to support the latter process.
Minister Simmers said: “My visit here follows a number of engagements I had with the representatives of the PSC, whereby I was made aware of certain issues that needed to be attended to, such as the depreciating condition of some of the buildings. I therefore took time out to visit all the residential blocks as I believe this will help to clarify roles and responsibilities, in relation to the maintenance of the buildings and units. I have noted all the community’s concerns and have committed to return in a few weeks, to check on whether the issues that were raised here today have been dealt by the Department.”
“I look forward to maintaining a transparent working relationship with all the stakeholders involved, as this project will require the tenants and my Department to work together”, concluded Minister Simmers.