National Assembly addresses concerns to minister for lands and housing

Minister for Land and Housing Billy Rangasamy yesterday appeared before the National Assembly, where, with a panel from his ministry, addressed a number of questions relating to his portfolio.




Ongoing projects at Pointe Larue


As per the minister, the ex-Melon Estate project at Pointe Larue to allocate land bank plots to successful applicants is going well despite numerous constraints faced by government. Work is under way to survey the plots, in preparation for allocation next month.


Applicants were informed in July 2019 that they qualify for the said plots. Government racked up a cost of R18.3 million for the project which features 14 plots in total, and is looking to break-even, as government still provides a buffer.


With regard to the flats at Joseph Estate, Minister Rangasamy clarified that despite having already paid for the residences 10 years ago in 2012, the units housed in two blocks are yet to be transferred to the residents.


In order to be able to transfer the units, the property first had to be registered under the Condominium Act, a process which was completed in 2012. However, the Property Management Company (PMC) was later informed that each block would have to be registered under a separate plot of land, instead of one single plot.


Since assuming office in 2020, Minister Rangasamy’s ministry has taken up the matter, and carried out surveys to allow the PMC to complete the registration and legal requirements, and hopes to complete the exercise soon.


Deputy chief executive of PMC Steve Mussard added that the de-registering and re-registering process is expected to be finalised by December.


To facilitate the process for citizens who already have access to a plot of land, government remains committed towards supporting them through the Housing Finance Company (HFC), Minister Rangasamy stated, with more announcements scheduled for the 2023 budget deliberations.




Rusty roofs at Malaysian flats Glacis


The leakages at the Malaysian flats, Glacis are down to old, rusty roofs, Minister Rangasamy clarified, and following a site visit, the Seychelles Infrastructure Agency (SIA) has been instructed to prepare a technical working document, in preparation for the launch of the tender process.


As 24 of the 26 homes are privately-owned, home-owners are expected to finance the renovation works, although government will assist those requiring home-improvement loans.


Work is expected to commence after the rainy season, early next year, provided the agreements with home owners are finalised.


Still in the Glacis district, Minister Rangasamy noted that the ministry has recently concluded negotiations for a plot which could potentially house some 60 housing units.




Land bank on Praslin


The ministry will soon have a registry of all government land, following the launch of an exercise last year, together with the Department of Information Communication and Technology and the Registry.


The Land Registration Project on Praslin and La Digue is set to commence from November 1. Government has hired international experts for the exercise, placing government in a better position to know how many land bank plots are available.


No land bank plots are available for allocation in the immediate on Praslin island, he clarified. Work to make available six plots at Salazie will commence before the end of the year.


District authorities have already proposed certain vacant plots to government.




Rochon road extension project


For property owners who have negotiated way-leave with the former government, and who have been offered some form of compensation, Minister Rangasamy urged them to come forward through district authorities, for government to attempt to honour these promises for compensation.


A strategy had been put in place with the Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs in instances where there is an element of financial or in-kind compensation. The lands department can only honour compensation claims where there is written evidence.




Former agro-site and IDC project


All airside properties are managed by the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) and as soon as the Islands Development Company (IDC) vacates the plot opposite the Kannu’s Supermarket, Pointe Larue. At the moment, construction works by IDC is well under way on the Agro site to build a boundary wall.


Government is in discussions with IDC to negotiate the integration of a drainage project designed to prevent flooding in the area, with their own project.




Spaces for leisure and socialising


The significant demand for land for a variety of uses is a major balancing act for the ministry, although government remains committed to making such spaces available in future.


Today, the Land Use plan comprising spaces for leisure activities for the Anse Royale district is to be tabled before cabinet. District authorities are being called upon to identify such spaces in their respective districts, to be included in the land use plan for each district or region.




St Anne jetty


Government is looking to redevelop the St Anne Jetty site, a former leisure site which was cordoned off with the Covid pandemic. This is due to security reasons, explained principal secretary for lands Muriel Morgan, and it is more likely than not to be converted into a touch-base point for those travelling to different islands.




Transferring large families from one-bedroom properties


Government has 267 one-bedroom units and an additional 191 bedsitter units, a major cause for concern since most are expected to be congested.


Minister Rangasamy noted that the level of demand places a lot of pressure on government to provide housing solutions, although he also remarked that in some instances there are abuses. As the budget allows for the construction of new units, large families living in congested units are to be gradually moved into more appropriate housing.


Eight units are presently being built at Roche Caïman, due to extreme land shortage in the area.




Vulnerable Home Repair Scheme


Government has since 2020 worked towards establishing a clear policy in regards to vulnerable groups in society who are in desperate need for housing. A separate budget and policy for special housing has also been finalised since then, and both will be enforced towards the end of the year, as government seeks to try and clear the backlog.


It will be important in moving forward that applicants are able to prove that they have no means of partially or fully-financing the project, if they are to qualify under the newly drafted Vulnerable Home Repair Scheme Policy, and Emergency Housing Policy.




Accommodation options for graduates from Praslin and La Digue


Mid-range condominiums targeted at graduates on Praslin and La Digue is under way, with the site visit and preliminary concept already completed.


The survey section is at present carrying out topographic works, in a bid to complete the designs, featuring a good drainage system for submission to the Planning Authority.




Source: Seychelles Nation