PLETTENBERG BAY NEWS - A sense of hope has swept through the New Horizons community following a "fruitful" meeting with Western Cape Human Settlements MEC Tertius Simmers who committed to working with the disenfranchised community on the outskirts of Plettenberg Bay to address their housing issues.
Residents of the area have been lobbying for housing in New Horizons for more than two decades, but to no avail.
These unsuccessful efforts have since boiled over into a series of violent protests especially during June and July last year and more recently July this year. Both waves of protests brought the town to a near standstill.
The community's biggest grievance is that over the past 15 years, government has built 3 000 RDP houses in Bitou, of which New Horizons received only 64 units. While New Horizons is not an informal settlement, the area's backyard dwellers amount to about 950.
In October last year, the municipality acquired a portion of land in Ebenezer and earmarked it for about 1 500 sites available for the construction of housing and infrastructure development, but residents have since expressed their concern over the lack of progress in this regard.
When Simmers visited the community over the past weekend however, he provided some clarity over future housing development in the area.
Spokesperson for the Concerned Citizens of New Horizons Forum Claude Terblanche described Simmers's visit as a fruitful one which made residents hopeful.
The MEC said his department is working on a housing project for the Ebenezer land which would include 1 194 units. The project is scheduled to start in April next year until 2024.
"I commend the community leaders for their commitment to work with my department and who would ensure that no further illegal occupation of land or protests with regard to housing occur in the area," the provincial minister said.
On the point of Simmers encouraging the community to work directly with his office, Terblanche said they were very pleased."We no longer have to deal with the municipality, which we are very happy about," he said.
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