KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has blamed a lack of planning for the stoppage of the Woodlands housing project in ward 32.
Zikalala further announced that the Department of Human Settlement will be taking over the implementation of the project from now on and its hoped construction could resume as soon as the beginning of 2021.
Zikalala was speaking during an unannounced visit to the Woodlands housing project on Friday as part of the launch of the Siyahlola Premier’s Monitoring Programme.
The programme is aimed at unlocking challenges in respect of blocked projects on the ground, enhancing the performance of the state by dealing with wastage and poor service delivery, ensuring that projects implemented benefit the community and ensuring that frontline services apply the ethos of a caring government.
The Woodlands Housing Project was initiated by Msunduzi Municipality in 2017, but it has since been halted due to environmental issues.
The project was meant to benefit just over 230 people who live in Malahleni informal settlement. It is alleged that about R24 million had already been used in this project, but to date only 69 houses have been built.
These new houses have since been vandalised and others have been occupied by vagrants.
Zikalala said lack of planning was the cause of the project having to be put on hold.
“The project started before the planning was done and finalised, hence you see that there is no sewer system and there is no water ... but they built houses.
“Secondly when The National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) intervened and environmental issues were raised it was found that they could not proceed with the project without the environmental authorisation, hence the project was stopped,” he said.
He said from what they have gathered from the beneficiaries it is clear that the service provider who was appointed did not do well. It is alleged they used people from the area to provide water to build these houses.
“We will investigate how the service provider — who appeared to have no knowledge or capacity — was appointed.
“We need to verify their experience, if they had any knowledge of building houses, their background and check whether processes were followed and from there we will see what to do.
“This is not the only project that we will monitor, but we will be going throughout the province to make sure that the projects that have started are processed and implemented up until the final stages.”
Vusi Zondi, who is one of the beneficiaries of the housing, project told The Witness that their wish is to see the project being completed so that they can move in.
He questioned how the project started without environmental clearance.
He said the people are living in informal settlements in dangerous conditions. “Our wish is to see this project restarting again in January next year,” he said.