29 overcrowded areas a cause for concern for Human Settlements dept

Minister of Human Settlements Lindiwe Sisulu can be seen during a press briefing at the Dirco Media Centre, 24 March 2020, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Consultations to make land available to possibly house those in heavily populated areas is under way, Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu says.

Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu says her department has identified 29 areas which are “heavily populated” and could be breeding grounds for the spread of Covid-19.

To fight against the spread of the coronavirus, the department will be relying on a heat map to identify hot spots it should pay attention to.

The global pandemic has been growing rapidly since hitting the country earlier this month.

Sisulu addressed the media in Pretoria on Tuesday after President Cyril Ramaphosa placed the country under lockdown from midnight on Thursday until 16 April.

She said consultations to make land available to possibly house those in heavily populated areas is under way.

“We have identified 29 areas that are heavily populated, which will be a cause for concern if the virus enters these areas,” said Sisulu.

“We are in consultation with the [Ministry of Land Reform], and we are in consultation with the Minister of Public Works. This crisis comes at a time when we have already been in consultation with them – now we just have to increase the pace at which they are leasing it to us,” Sisulu said.

She said her department had long begun the work of ensuring both housing and water and sanitation issues were not left behind in the crisis.

“When the national state of disaster was announced, we realised that we needed to act very quickly,” she said.

“When the president announced yesterday (Monday) a complete shutdown, we had already established our infrastructure and are able to continue our work to provide for our people,” she continued.

Sisulu said more than a thousand water tankers had already been sent out to the Eastern Cape, which she had identified as one of the country’s drought-stricken provinces.

She also listed Limpopo, Free State and Northern Cape as some of the most affected provinces.

“We have concluded our procurement processes and within a week we will be able to provide communities in dire need of water,” said Sisulu.

“A disaster of this nature is difficult to predict,” she added, highlighting that government was doing the best it could under the current conditions.

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