PE residents live in leaky shacks while government fails to pay contractors

2017-02-24 15:03

Port Elizabeth – About 300 housing beneficiaries in Chatty Extension, Port Elizabeth, are living in leaking shacks behind their unfinished houses, after builders went on strike because they weren’t paid.

The Housing Development Agency (HDA), appointed by the Eastern Cape Department of Human Settlements, awarded the contract to 13 emerging contractors in 2015. Several downed tools in December, saying they had not been paid, GroundUp reported. Contractors have been toyi-toying outside the HDA’s Greenacres office on several occasions about non-payment.

Simpiwe Waka, spokesperson for the Chatty Extension Project, an organisation representing the disgruntled contractors, said: "Things have never been good from the start. The HDA pays builders late; at times, they don’t even bother to pay us… It is even worse now, because they have divided us. Some contractors are being paid, while others are left out."

Noxolo Ngoma and her child outside their shack
Noxolo Ngoma and her child outside their shack at the back of her unfinished house. (Joseph Chirume/GroundUp)

Waka said there were many workers who had not been paid since last year.

"We held numerous meetings seeking clarification from the officials, but all our efforts have been fruitless. We are just desperate because beneficiaries are putting pressure on us as they want to get into their houses," said Waka.

GroundUp found a contractor (who refused to give his name or the name of the company) busy electrifying a house that had been finished. He said: "I don’t have problems with payment. I get paid for every job I do."

'There is no privacy'

But many houses are not plastered and have no doors or windows.

Resident Noxolo Ngoma said her family was among the first to be moved to Chatty, in September 2014, from Vastrap informal settlement in Booysens Park. They had built temporary shacks, while waiting for their houses. They were overjoyed in 2015 when construction started on the first houses.

"I am now baffled to see that most houses around us have been completed and their beneficiaries have moved in, while we are still living in our shacks," said Ngoma, who is unemployed. "My shack is not strong. It leaks heavily and is too small for myself and my two children."

Her neighbour, Nomfusi Pitana, said she worries about her three children, because they are living in a one-roomed shack with seven adults.

"We are 10 in our family, including my children. We have to squeeze together on the floor at night, and there is no privacy. We do not have money to build another shack, because we are all unemployed," said Pitana.

'Our shack is just horrible'

The family depends on the state older person’s grant for their 72-year-old grandmother, Maggie Sonjica.

"Our shack is just horrible. Most of our furniture has been destroyed by wind and rain. Water also seeps through the walls of the shack," said Pitana. She said they were plagued by mosquitoes, and that scorpions came into the shack.

Housing Development Agency spokesperson Zingaphi Matanzima blamed the Eastern Cape Department of Human Settlements for the delayed payment.

"The Agency is working closely with the housing department to deal with issues that impact adversely on projects and has confidence that those will be resolved. The allegations of discrimination against certain segments of the contractors are untrue. The Agency is up to date with claims due, in line with the contractual agreements."

Asked about the non-payment of contractors, Eastern Cape Department of Human Settlements spokesperson Lwandile Sicwetsha, said: "Ask HDA about that, because they recently confirmed that everything was okay. The project is managed by them."

Read more on:    port elizabeth  |  housing  |  service delivery

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