KZN to prosecute bungling builders

2011-03-04 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL will be the first province to prosecute errant housing contractors through an enforcement and prosecution unit to be launched next month under the National Home Builders’ Registration Council (NHBRC).

Sipho Mashinini, CEO of the council said investigations already carried out by his organisation in the province found that 80% of houses built by errant contractors need to be demolished or rebuilt.

He was talking at a meeting organised by KZN MEC for Human Settlements, Maggie Govender, at the Olive Convention Centre in Durban. The meeting was attended by Premier Zweli Mhkize, mayors, municipal managers,contractors and implementing agents.

Govender said the agenda is to share what her department would like to see happen in housing delivery in KZN, to hear from contractors about the challenges they face and to find a way forward to resolve them. She said there is more than enough work in the province in the area of housing delivery, provided it is done properly.

Mkhize said that R2,7 billion has been set aside for human settlement projects this year, but this was against a backdrop of a backlog of over 900 000 houses. “This means we have to do something and we have to do it pretty quickly,” he said.

According to Mkhize 52 projects are stalled because of problems with implementation agents. The problems include contractors being liquidated, experiencing cash flow problems or going unpaid. He said some of the reasons are unsigned documentation or because the department has no records of the subcontractor.

Mashinini said the NHBRC investigation revealed that no geotechnical surveys were done for many projects . This is against the law. Instances of shoddy work included rough foundations, poor workmanship and substandard materials, and on most houses the roof structures were poor and the corrugated iron sheets not to specification.

Mkhize said steps have been taken to rectify problems that led to the province’s inability to spend R200 000 million on housing and having to return the money to national government. These included better co-ordination between the province and municipalities.

He added that the department is being restructured to make it more efficient and that investigations are under way to uncover collusion which had resulted in defective houses being passed.

The premier said that a crack technical team is being put together, comprising engineers, architects and quantity surveyors, to operate under a committee of MECs. The team will ensure that project deadlines are maintained and quality housing is delivered.

Several contractors presented written submissions on their challenges. Mkhize said Govender and her department will follow up.

Contractors’ major complaints were subsidies that did not increase adequately, poor communication between government and contractors and not enough assistance for emerging contractors.

PREMIER Zweli Mkhize acknowledged that the R3 500 income bracket that allows people to get government houses is not enough. He said he was aware that people who earn R5 000 do not qualify for bonds and can’t afford home loans from commercial banks.

The premier alluded to the land invasions a few years ago near his home in Ashburton. He said the media referred to the people as the “larney” land invaders who arrived in 4 x 4 vehicles and leather jackets. However, an investigation revealed that these were people largely in the R5 000 income bracket. “We are sitting with the banks and exploring ways of how we will be able to assist this grouping,” Mkhize added.

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