Minister Rangasamy addresses questions relating to housing, sewage and land |22 March 2023
Efforts to establish regional sewage treatment plants is but one of the priorities which the Ministry of Lands and Housing is hoping to accomplish with the support of the Public Utilities Corporation (PUC), Minister for Lands and Housing Billy Rangasamy announced yesterday.
Sewage is one of the main challenges in the country at present, he remarked.
The Seychelles Infrastructure Agency (SIA) is avoiding the use of septic tanks and soakaways on new housing projects, clarified chief executive Jitesh Shah and is instead using sewage treatment plants (STP) or connecting to existing PUC sewage networks which do not require any maintenance.
Minister Rangasamy and officials from the various agencies under his portfolio were before the National Assembly yesterday to answer members’ questions pertaining to different projects within their respective districts.
Moratorium on construction on Ile Perseverance
The moratorium on construction by residents of Ile Perseverance is still in force, and guidelines regarding different types of construction are to be announced as soon as approved by cabinet, Minister Rangasamy stated.
A moratorium was imposed by the ministry last year with the aim of deterring illegal constructions, encroachment, blocking of public pathways and other works not in accordance with the requirements of the Seychelles Planning Authority (SPA).
This was to allow entities including the SPA, SIA, Property Management Corporation (PMC), and the PUC to analyse the situation and draft the necessary guidelines.
In the past, a significant proportion of construction works were carried out “in the service corridors, which led to a lot of complaints by inhabitants and other entities such as PUC,” Minister Rangasamy clarified.
These include boundary walls and house extensions constructed on top of the drainage and sewage systems, severely impacting possible future maintenance works.
However, all residents who have already sought and received approval from SPA for the construction of boundary walls and fencing may submit a commencement notice notifying the SPA of their intent to start their projects, to allow the entity to monitor progress.
All construction works must be in accordance to the provisions of the newly enforced Physical Planning Act.
Reroofing works at Dan Limon, Beoliere
The tender process for reroofing works for tenants of Dan Limon, Beoliere have already been completed.
Nine of twenty-two tenants have agreed to the conditions, including repayment terms, while negotiations are still under way with the remaining thirteen.
The works are set to commence as soon as the agreements are signed.
Nationally, “there are 756 houses with the roofing problem”, Minister Rangasamy stated, assuring that his ministry is committed to addressing the situation.
Houses with roofing issues are mainly those with concrete roofing tiles.
Deed transfers for residents of Dan Koko housing estate, St Louis
As of April 2021, the ministry has undertaken much work to accelerate and complete the processes, so as to remit to residents of Dan Koko housing estate, St Louis, with their deed of transfers.
Even if surveys had already been completed, the PMC was obliged to transfer the plots on which the blocks have been constructed over to government, and then to the entity itself, a time consuming element to the process.
It has also been necessary for the SIA to reproduce the house plans in line with the provisions of the Condominium Act, in the absence of such plans.
“Technical works are completed, and PMC along with its lawyer have completed all formalities, as well as effecting the stamp duty payments. All that is remaining is the registration of the five blocks to formalise it, before PMC can call resident one by one to sign their deeds,” Minister Rangasamy stated.
Applicants can expect to be called towards the end of July.
Renovation works to residences at Ex Geers housing estate, St Louis
One of the main problems faced by inhabitants of the Ex Geers housing estate is concrete spalling, Minister Rangasamy remarked, as is the case for many others living in older buildings.
Concrete spalling is largely caused by carbonation, a natural deterioration process. This causes the steel bars embedded in the ceiling slab to corrode, which in turn causes the concrete cover to crack and bulge.
In a bid to address the situation, the ministry in September 2022 conducted a comprehensive evaluation of all units on the estate, and prepared a detailed renovation plan inclusive of the costs for each individual unit.
Among the important considerations government has to take into account is relocation of the families, repayments terms and the duration of work for each unit. The ministry intends to meet with tenants and district authorities by April to determine the best way forward.
All of the units on the estate are privately-owned having already been paid off by the tenants.
The estate boasts four blocks of six units, totalling 24 units.
Efforts to make available land bank plots on La Digue
The ministry is working hard to find sustainable housing solutions for La Digue residents, to be able to meet demand for both land and housing on the island.
At present, there are 71 applicants seeking land while a further 80 have applied for affordable housing solutions, 24 of whom are paying towards their home savings scheme (HSS).
According to Minister Rangasamy, one of the land bank projects which government was looking into is not financially viable, and government lacks any alternative residential land bank plots on the island.
“However, to honour our commitment to the selected few who qualified under the point system of 2020, the ministry is exploring the possibility of four to six additional plots in the vicinity of the 24 houses, 24 districts project, near L’Union Estate,” Minister Rangasamy stated.
As such, government will be left with barely any options but to buy land from the private market, to be able to assist families on La Digue. As these purchases will be financed from taxpayers funds, plots should be reasonable priced.
Developments on parcel V5150, Roche Caiman
Despite a number of projects which were planned for the plot V5150, measuring 7144 square metres, the matter is still being disputed in court.
As per elected United Seychelles (US) member for Roche Caiman Audrey Vidot, the site remains abandoned and has become a centre for delinquent activities.
The ministry last conducted a clean-up on the site in 2017.
Second phase of construction Ex Hunt, Anse aux Poules Bleues, Baie Lazare
The 2023 budget makes provisions for the second phase of house construction at Ex Hunt, Baie Lazare.
Project plans have already been submitted to the SPA, Minister Rangasamy remarked, and based on the recommendations of the SPA, certain minor modifications are under way to ensure the project is as sustainable as possible.
The tender for the project is expected to be launched in April.
The project comprises 16 units, eight two-bedroom units and eight three-bedroom units, and the construction phase is expected to be completed by April 2024.