Minister responsible for land and housing answers Assembly members’ questions |21 July 2021
The minister responsible for lands and housing Billy Rangasamywas in the National Assembly yesterday to answer members’ questions and clarify their points of concern in relation to land and housing projectsin their respective districts.
The minister has reminded the MNAs of the ministry’s budgetary constraints which are affecting and delaying the completion and start of different projects.
Minister Rangasamy was accompanied by principal secretary for housing Denis Barbe, principal secretary for infrastructure Yves Choppy, and the deputy chief executive of the Property Management Company (PMC) Steve Mussard.
Plan of the Ministry of Lands and Housing to assess structural damage to Eden Village flats
Minister Rangasamy has saidthere was a firstevaluation exercise in 2019 to determine the extent of damage to the flats at Eden Village which led the PMC to conclude that theyare structurally strong. As of Saturday, work is underway to remove cracked concrete in bathrooms and kitchens, caused by the drainage systems. A working plan for the village is also being finalisedand will include works such as cancelling in-wall drainage systems and having them on the surface, treating exposed and rusting metalsand lastly, applying a specialised product to repair the ceilings.
Minister Rangasamy gave these information when answering a question by MNA for Roche Caïman Audrey Vidot who had asked for these details as well as PMC’s plan to make better use of the security kiosk at the village to address anti-social problems and illegal activities in the area.
Minister Rangasamy said the kiosk in the village, is a project piloted by PMC but he personally does not feel that this approach will work in Roche Caïman and he has called for law enforcement and community groups to step in and help in the fight against anti-social behaviourand delinquency.
Sewerage treatment plant installation at Plaisance
With regard to the increasing scarcity of land at Plaisance to installsceptic tanks and other sewerage facilities, theministry is committed to maximising terrains at housing development projects so as to extend the sewage system and allow for connections with that ofthe greater Victoria project. Minister Rangasamy detailed the work underway toextendthe pipelines from Copolia to the Public Utilities Corporation (PUC) pump at Corgat Estate which is presently at least 53% complete. He revealed a further project to redevelop the former Société du Logement to extend the sewerage line by around 800m to the project site, along the Belvedere road. These projects are mainly geared towards areas ofproposed high density, for instance at upper Copolia where 79 housing units are planned. Both projects have the capacity to be of use by certain other private houses along the same line, he added.
Updates on the Dolphin Court housing block
Hon. Kelly Samynadin, MNA for Au Cap, wanted an update on plans to redevelopthe Dolphin Courts block of flats at Au Capand plans to demolish or relocate tenants.
According to Hon. Samynadin, the previous government had since 2012 committed to the project. But Minister Rangasamy affirmed that redevelopment is not practical at this time of economic hardship. He, however, assured residents of the district that thehouses are still structurally sound adding that a complete evaluation on them is expected to be completed in along-term comprehensive renovation plan. Furthermore, an evaluation of the tenants to assess whether they are keeping up with their Home Savings Scheme (HSS) payments will also be carried out.
“Depending on the cost of the renovation, the project is probably going to be carried out in phases,” Minister Rangasamy said.
Scarcity of land and housing still a big challenge
With 1,594 applicants for a plot of land in the land bank scheme and 2,850 applicants for a house in the different projects which include condominiums, self-finance and social housing, Minister Rangasamy has reminded Assembly members that the scarcity of land and housing remains a major challenge for the government.
However, as per the national budget, government has allocated to the ministry funds to build around 190 housing unitsand open up about 100 plots of land during this budget year. The minister also pointed out that around 1,600 applicants are failing to make their contributions towards the social housing schemes.
Similarly, PS Barbe noted that an alarming trend observed by the department over recent months is a significant number of applicants who have ceased payments and have removed their contributions altogether, for certain housing schemes.
“The aim is to make the housing system more sustainable. The ministry is also conducting an inventory on state land, and exploring the potential for development,” Minister Rangasamy said, ensuring the need for a more sustainable development.
As such, the ministry and concerned departments and agencies are focusing on establishing a land information system, areview of the prices at which state land is being sold, as well asa review of the allocation process.
Assembly members also sought more information with regards to land, housing and infrastructure projects in their respective districts, as well as national infrastructure projects.