Price hikes, steel shortage delay Delft move

Shortages of steel and massive price hikes mean that there will be a delay in moving thousands of Delft evictees to temporary homes, Cape Town mayoral committee member for housing Dan Plato said on Wednesday.

He said the “three- or four-week” time frame that the city originally set for the move had already lapsed, and that it could now take months.

About 800 families have been living in council-provided marquees, or roadside shelters, after being evicted from newly built homes in the area last month.

The homes are part of the N2 Gateway project, and are meant largely for residents of the Joe Slovo informal settlement elsewhere on the Cape Flats.

Most of the 800 families were backyard dwellers in the Delft area, and all of them are on the city’s housing waiting list.

Plato told a media briefing that the council had identified a nearby piece of land for the families, and had completed preparatory earthworks and services.

It had been the intention to get construction of the 6m-by-3m temporary homes, with galvanised iron walls and roof, under way this week.

However, the council had now learned that a result of power cuts there was a shortage of iron from supplier ArcelorMittal, and the earliest expected delivery was the beginning of May.

In addition, there had been two massive steel price hikes, which meant that the prices on the supply tender the city had already secured were no longer feasible.

The city would have to put out a new call for tenders.

“That for us is a major setback, it’s a dramatic setback,” Plato said.

“It hit us like cold water in the face, and we have faced up to that challenge.”

The news would be communicated to the evictees in the next 24 to 36 hours.

Plato said he appealed to them to bear with and trust the city.

He hoped the relocation would be completed “in the next two to three months”, though it could drag on longer.

The city’s director of housing, Hans Smit, said the price hikes, coming in the space of a single month, meant the cost of the galvanised iron for the homes had gone up from R4,9-million to R6,2-million.

The city has been providing food, water, toilets and security for the evictees.

According to Plato the “whole exercise”, including the still-to-be-erected galvanised homes, would cost the city just over R20-million.

“We fulfilled our humanitarian obligation. We fulfilled our constitutional obligation ... we have walked the extra mile to ultimately assist these people,” he said.—Sapa

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