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Gvt plans Maseru City upgrade

Lesotho's widely read newspaper, published every Thursday and distributed throughout the country and in some parts of South Africa.

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Nthabiseng Libate

THE government is working on a comprehensive programme to deal with slums in Maseru. The programme is part of its plans to upgrade the city, Local Government, Chieftainship, Home Affairs and Police Minister, Lebona Lephema, has said.

Addressing a recent workshop on the Maseru City-wide Strategy Action Plan at Victoria Hotel, Mr Lephema said the government was working with the United Nations (UN) Habitat, residents and other stakeholders to come up with programmes to discourage slums.

Maseru has been experiencing rapid urbanisation and this has led to a massive increase in informal settlements over the years.

To address this, Mr Lephema said, “We need to come up with a targeted, integrated, multi-sectoral national slum upgrading programme with a high human development impact for people living in informal settlements.

“I wish to reiterate the government’s commitment to the ideals and principles of the UN-Habitat’s Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme, as well as its policies and programmes.”

Mr Lephema thanked UN Habitat for its continued financial and technical support for Lesotho’s programmes aimed at improving living conditions for the populace.

He said the organisation had worked with the government since 2012 to “develop knowledge, mobilise partners and inform policy development aimed at improving living conditions of people living in informal settlements”.

On his part, Maseru City-Wide Upgrading Strategy consultant, Resetselemang Leduka, said there was need to develop appropriate institutional frameworks to address the challenge of informal settlements.

“We need to create and institutionalise affordable and participatory measures for upgrading housing in the city,” he said.

In a diagnostic report of informal settlements in Maseru, Maseru City-Wide Upgrading Strategy lead consultant, ‘Mantai Seeko said that urbanisation had resulted in expansive unplanned development of low densities and sprawling suburbs. These were extremely expensive to service with basic infrastructure, she said.

The reason for the ad hoc pattern of settlements in Lesotho was that acquiring land through proper formal channels was cumbersome and expensive, Ms Seeko said.

Consequently, migrants and other users acquired land through informal means, thus exacerbating unplanned settlements which lacked basic services.