Go-slow stalls land developers

2010-02-05 00:00

LAND developers are facing a potentially crippling period after land surveyors affiliated to the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) threatened to embark on a national strike imminently, following the failure of the Rural Development and Land Reforms Department to resolve their grievances.

The surveyors have been on a go-slow since September last year after the department failed to resolve their concerns related to wage disparities within the department.

The slowdown has already severely affected the processing and approval of development plans.

It is estimated that land parcels worth R3 billion are backed up, and the waiting period for their approval has lengthened from four weeks to eight months.

Nehawu’s national co-ordinator, Zim Giyama, said the union never withdrew its certificate of dispute against the department when its members resumed work, and is preparing for a national strike in case the department’s senior management fails to provide it with a written offer resolving the dispute.

“We resumed working in September after the management had agreed to address our concerns, and when those issues were not addressed speedily, we decided to embark on a go-slow.”

Giyama said the inaction of the management has shown that it does not take the surveyors’ general office seriously.

A national strike will cripple the land development process; the go-slow has already set back several development projects, with many local private land surveyors complaining about the backlog.

Anthony Haines of Haines and Jeffreys in Pietermaritzburg is one of the land surveyors affected by the ongoing disute.

He said he has about 40 clients waiting for the approval of their projects by the department.

“I have about three low-cost housing projects in the Mpophomeni area that have stalled and are awaiting approval from the department.

“As a professional land surveyor in private practice, I have to explain, with great difficulty, to clients why there are such significant delays in all land transactions,” Haines added.

In a circular released by the department in the week of January 15, it admitted that the go-slow is crippling development.

It said about 2 070 land parcels are waiting to be approved with 64 000 workers losing incomes due to the delay.

The department’s spokesman, Eddie Mohoebi, said the concerns are being addressed and he urged the staff to continue working.

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