Projects include electricity, water and sanitation

Joburg has poorest record in upgrading informal settlements

Siviwe Feketha Political reporter
FILE IMAGE: Joburg has poorest record in upgrading informal settlements.
FILE IMAGE: Joburg has poorest record in upgrading informal settlements.
Image: Sebabatso Mosamo

The City of Johannesburg has shown the poorest record of progress compared to other Gauteng metros in the provision of basic services to targeted poorer communities.

This is according to the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) report on the state of human rights in the province, with special focus on the upgrading of informal settlements and the provision of critical services, including water, sanitation and electricity, as part of basic human rights.

The report focused on the first two quarters of the 2020/2021 financial year of the three metros, looking at the plans they had put in place and work they had actually done.

The national government created the upgrading of informal settlement programme (UISP) which is budgeted and funded through 20% of the urban settlement development grant (USDG) and in which metros are required to prioritise upgrading informal settlements and the living standards of poor communities.

SAHRC officer Dalli Weyers said Johannesburg had received R370m from the government for the UISP projects, with its biggest being the formalisation of informal settlements, which was allocated R221m.

Weyers said despite its elaborate plan, the city has performed very poorly in implementing its projects, which also included electrification and implementation of water and sanitation.

“By the end of the second quarter, a mere 11% of the budget linked to these projects had been spent. The reason for concern is that between the end of the first and the end of the second quarter, only 1% of the budget had been spent.

“So it is 10% in the first quarter and only 1% in the second quarter. Obviously, if the city continues on this trajectory, these projects will not be implemented by the end of the financial year,” he said.

Weyers said between one in five and one in six households in the three metros lived in informal settlements, 18% in Ekurhuleni, 19% in Johannesburg and 16.4% in Tshwane.

Just over 20% of households were without electricity in Ekurhuleni, 29% in Johannesburg while Tshwane was at 15.1%, according to the SAHRC, which also placed households who used shared water taps and sanitation at 8.1%, 72% and 3.1% in Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg and Tshwane respectively.

For the 2020/2021 financial year, Ekurhuleni had received R394m for UISP, of which R220m was dedicated to electrification.

Weyers said while there was poor communication and public participation, the implementation of its projects stood at 44.5% at the end of second quarter.

“That is not a bad percentage. Halfway through the financial year and you are almost getting to halfway through the implementation of the projects that you had identified, and we have appreciation that Covid-19 likely had implication for some of these projects,” he said.

Weyers said the SAHRC appreciated that Tshwane had for some time been placed under administration, which made the current administration battle to provide the commission with adequate information for the current financial year.

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