Social Infrastructure Development

By Gill Price Gill Price

Every day our country’s socio-economic landscape is changing for the better with government’s dedicated investments in social infrastructure. We have been on a journey of expanding our social infrastructure for the benefit of all citizens.

Our investments in schools, water, sanitation, hospitals, early childhood development centres, libraries and housing are helping meet the basic human needs while enhancing quality of life and social wellbeing. It is playing an important role in developing strong and inclusive communities.

One such social infrastructure project is the Lufhereng Social Housing Project launched by the Department of Human Settlements. The project in Soweto’s Region D in Johannesburg consists of 407 rental units built by government.

These units, as part our social housing programme, will go a long way in helping curb our housing backlog as it draws in people living in backyard shelters and informal settlements around Soweto.

This is a mixed-income development that offers a range of housing options to cater to different income groups. In promoting mixed-income units we can eliminate neighbourhoods of concentrated poverty, combat residential segregation and to provide a safer environment.

This mega housing project was established in 2006 as part of the government’s efforts to provide affordable housing to low-income families. More than 1 300 housing units have been completed and over 2 000 houses are under construction.

This R22 billion project is being implemented in 10 phases to develop over 30 000 households and is expected to be completed in 2029. Through the building of the housing project we have created more than 7 000 jobs. Our focus on infrastructure is not only changing lives but also driving economic growth and creating employment.

Our infrastructure programme launched in mid-2020 is the cornerstone of the Economic Recovery and Reconstruction Plan. Our infrastructure investments are being used to secure dignified work, inclusive growth and social protection for those in need.

We opted for infrastructure as it has a multiplier effect on restoring economic growth, creating new jobs and protecting livelihoods. For example, we see our infrastructure projects leading to a revival of the construction industry and the creation of much-needed jobs. Its prioritisation will see the construction sector and its supporting industries become one of the biggest employers in the country.

Our investments on social infrastructure supports the economic development and furthers economic growth by providing services, which in turn allows businesses to develop and flourish. Through our infrastructure investment we are confident that the foundation is being been laid to thrust us forward to a brighter future.

Social housing projects such as the Lufhereng one are being built across the country. For example in the Western Cape, it includes the Maitlands Mews Social Housing Project in Cape Town and the Southern Cape Corridor Development Project in the Garden Route District Municipality.

It is envisaged that the project will provide more than 600 houses, which will benefit people living in poor conditions as well as communities that were ravaged by the 2017 fires in Knysna, Bitou and to an extent George.

Our social housing projects promote spatial integration in residential settlements, transport, social and economic areas, and will go a long way to reverse the spatial planning entrenched by apartheid. Through these investments, more residents will have access to social and economic services, opportunities and choices.

While our projects are to be celebrated, we must also do everything to safeguard our social infrastructure. The public infrastructure we are building belongs to each one of us and must be protected. When infrastructure such as libraries, police stations and schools are vandalised or destroyed it holds the future of our nation to ransom.

Moreover, the cost of replacing stolen or damaged infrastructure ultimately comes out of our pockets as taxpayers and the money that is used to rebuild those facilities could have been used to expand other critical infrastructure.

Public social infrastructure is part of our common heritage that benefits everyone in our community. Let us reclaim our schools, clinics and libraries so that the future generations can benefit. We must pledge to care, preserve and protect public property for the benefit of our children.

Gill Price is Director: Communication Resource Centre at Government Communication and Information System