THE DA plans to draw the attention of Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale to a failed housing project in Buffalo City.
DA shadow minister for human settlements Stevens Mokgalapa visited the Sweetwaters project site, which stalled in its first phase, as part of a national tour to examine the workmanship in low cost housing.
“The visit is to expose the poor quality workmanship done in building these houses, expose white elephants like this project and show what corruption and cronyism does to poor people,” Mokgalapa said.
During the visit, he was shown around 57 housing units. He was accompanied by local DA members, councillors and MPL Dacre Haddon. There were claims water and electricity were not provided at another phase in the area.
The project started in 2005 and was awarded to three different contractors.
Apparently the project was meant to have 620 units and two other contractors were appointed to finish the remainder but to no avail.
“This one alone should have cost around R3-million so that is R30-million of taxpayers’ money that went down the drain. That is unacceptable,” Mokgalapa said.
He charged the project showed corruption in housing and the awarding of tenders were still problems.
“All 57 should be demolished. We spend money to rebuild while we could have used the money to build further.”
The national government had allocated R930-million for rectifying shoddily built houses, he added.
“It tells you if you use R930-million to rectify, you actually don’t deal with the backlog of 2.2 million units.”
The need for rectification on such a masive scale sent a message the National Home Builders’ Registration Council should do its job properly.
“If they were doing their job properly from the first instance we would not be here, because the poor quality of the workmanship is due to them not inspecting what these contractors are doing.”
He said he would take up the issue of Sweetwaters with Sexwale, who last year announced contractors would be monitored for the quality of their work and blacklisted if necessary.
“I am informed in the Eastern Cape only seven were blacklisted and this one, who built these shoddy houses, was even deployed to build other houses in Seymour.
“So a person who failed to build properly is rewarded with another project. It means they are not serious when they say they’ll blacklist contractors. I will follow up on this one,” he said.
Mokgalapa said BCM received an urban settlement development grant to provide basic services such as water, sanitation, sewerage and electricity.
“I will make sure the municipality accounts on what they did with that grant. It is unacceptable these houses don’t have basic services,” Mokgalapa said.
Haddon said he was concerned the contractors responsible for shoddy work were not prosecuted.
“I will ask for a report on every contractor who has work, how many defaulted and what we do in each case.
“There are certain ones who must go,” he said, adding he was uncertain how much it would cost and how many houses had to be rectified in the Eastern Cape.
There was no comment from BCM or the provincial human settlements department by the time of going to print. Metro spokesman Keith Ngesi said questions had been sent to the housing section while the Daily Dispatch was unable to contact human settlements spokesman Lwandile Sicwetsha. — firstname.lastname@example.org