The first homes in the controversial N2 Gateway housing project in Cape Town have been handed over to residents amid complaints about the handling of the high-profile scheme.

Protests characterised the inauguration of the finished housing units in mid-July after it became clear that many of the applicants would not be receiving a home. Some have been living in sub-standard accommodation since they were relocated under the apartheid race laws in the 1950s.

Earlier the city of Cape Town had been stripped of all involvement in the project initiated by the national ruling party African National Congress (ANC) in 2005 after newly elected city mayor Helen Zille of the Democratic Alliance party (in opposition at national level) questioned allegations of unpaid bills and cost overruns.

N2 Gateway is a pilot project to tackle the housing shortage in the Mother City, which is also known as the shack capital of South Africa because of its slums and sub-standard accommodation. The scheme involves the construction of 22,000 housing units by 2007 along the N2 highway leading southeast out of the city for residents of the Bokmakierie, Bonteheuwel, Gugulethu and Langa informal settlements. So far just over 700 N2 Gateway homes have been completed.

In Cape Town an estimated 250,000 families currently live in inadequate accommodation, and it is estimated that the figure is rising by about 16,000 a year.

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