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Strikes cause setback in housing delivery

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CAPE ARGUS

Farmworkers in De Doorns. File photo: Tracey Adams

Cape Town - The recent farmworkers’ strike in De Doorns has resulted in a housing delivery slowdown in the Hex River Valley, which could result in massive underspending if projects are not completed by March 31 - the end of the current financial year - according to provincial Department of Human Settlements.

The contractor responsible for the construction of 611 houses and 645 serviced sites was forced to move off site on November 8.

The decision was taken to protect the contractor’s equipment during a violent strike in the De Doorns area, said the department.

Provincial Human Settlements head Mbulelo Tshangana said seven weeks of production - excluding the three-week builders’ holiday - were lost as a result of the strike.

“While we fully understand and respect the right of farmworkers to go on strike, the effects of the strike had a negative impact on the delivery of houses in the area of De Doorns in particular,” Tshangana said.

“In terms of the agreed targets between the contractor/Breede Valley municipality and the department, and with regard to progress made to date, there is a balance of 411 houses and 140 serviced sites still to be constructed before the end of the 2012/13 financial year.”

Tshangana said there were many uncertainties around the delivery of houses within the stipulated period owing to the contractor being forced out of the area due to the strike.

“This, at the moment, can translate to the possible under expenditure for the financial year amounting to approximately R30.5 million in this project alone.

“The other effect of this delay will require our department to pay a further fee estimated at approximately R3m, due to, among others: standing time on plant and equipment, extension of the time due to strike, acceleration cost to complete the project, damage to works and materials, etc.”

Tshangana said the contractor was monitoring the situation in the De Doorns area and planned to re-establish itself on site.

“Notwithstanding the challenges presented by the situation that we find ourselves in, underperformance must be mitigated.

“That is why my team and I, with the support of (Human Settlements) MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela, are visiting all municipalities, like Breede Valley, to ensure that all the commitments made are fulfilled through the delivery of houses and serviced sites as planned.”

Last week, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale warned that provinces which were underperforming in the 2012/13 financial year risked having a portion of their budgets taken away due to under-expenditure.

But Madikizela’s spokesman, Bruce Oom, said: “At this stage the Western Cape is unaffected by the minister’s announcement, and if the targets are delivered to a satisfactory level, then there is no reason to remove funds from the Western Cape.”

The Western Cape Department of Human Settlements set a target of building 9 325 service sites and 15 416 houses for the 2012/13 financial year.

clayton.barnes@inl.co.za

Cape Argus


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