The South African government is considering establishing its own factories to manufacture cement and alleviate shortages of the commodity which it fears might hamper its ambitious project to eliminate slums by 2014. Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu told a briefing of the Foreign Correspondents Association (FCA) on Monday that the government would do all it can to "fast-track" the delivery of decent houses to about 10 million South Africans living in informal settlements. This included making its own cement to avoid shortages caused by the boom in the construction sector. "We are considering setting up cement factories that are government run to deal with the shortage. We have done our homework and we will consider doing all it takes to clear the housing backlog and provide our people with decent accommodation. The 10-year target of clearing informal settlements is realistic," said Sisulu.
She said she had gone to China and Malaysia to learn how the two countries had dealt with their own housing problems. Despite its huge population, China had done so well in clearing slums that it had won the UN habitat award for clearing informal settlements. Malaysia had beaten its 2005 deadline for clearing slums by a year. Sisulu said she would focus on cutting back the red tape frustrating many in the construction sector.