RDP houses: File Photo
RDP houses: File Photo
What happens when you combine cheap, durable materials with ace ingenuity and a little bit of imagination? Well, potentially, the solution to South Africa’s low cost housing woes.
The need for housing is one of our most pressing issues and, although not for lack of trying, government has been largely unsuccessful in addressing it. Whether through shady tenders, shoddy buildings or convenient increases in overhead costs, RDP housing hasn’t quite gained the momentum it’s proposed beneficiaries would have wanted to see; it doesn’t take an analyst to tell you that when a single grandmother from Gugulethu has been on the waiting list since 1986…the system is fatally flawed (although government would appoint the analyst anyway).
If we’re going to tackle a constantly evolving problem, as it seems this has become, we’re going to have to adopt an evolved mindset to do so…or at least one that incorporates some ingenuity and creative problem solving. While the criminals and crooks have been vying for the lucrative deals we so often see with RDP programs, others have been looking at alternative means of housing.
Now, this is by no means a brand new way of looking at housing, MTV cribs even featured houses built this way; but when you start looking at the costs involved, there is no way you can resist the appeal of shipping containers as viable housing alternatives. The average price of a 40ft container bought locally is a mere R25 500, while the current cost of completing one RDP house is in the region of R90 000.
While we’re sure there are certain formalities in using what is essentially prefabricated homes in alleviating our housing headaches, taking into account that we’re talking about the living standards of the marginalised masses here, the pros most certainly outweigh the cons. Containers are built to be weatherproof, are stackable (allowing for personalisation) and, with their solid structure can make for interesting urban gardening initiatives.
As more and more NGO’s join the housing fold, we’re sure to see an uptake in using containers for housing solutions; but until government throws it’s weight behind this, instead of looking at the housing problem as yet another way to line their own pockets, it will remain a niche solution to a national problem.