Johannesburg - The State has spent more than R2 billion over three years repairing shoddily built RDP houses. “It was a challenge,” said Ndivhuwo Mabaya, spokesman for the Human Settlements Ministry.
“We are no longer fixing houses now. If we find the developer has done something wrong, we find the developer and take him back to fix it.
“We are no longer going to budget money for fixing houses.”
The cost of the fixes is detailed in a reply to Parliament by Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, in response to questions by DA MP Makashule Gana.
Sisulu said that in just over three years – during 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14 and the first two months of 2014-15 – the department spent R2.13bn repairing 26 459 RDP houses due to the poor workmanship of contractors.
This did not include damage to some houses from natural disasters.
There were another 1 772 houses repaired because of such damage, and these cost another R85 million to fix.
Most of the problems occurred in the Eastern Cape, where the department spent R1.5bn fixing houses due to poor workmanship.
Gana called the expense unacceptable, saying it should have been available to fund new housing instead.
“We estimate that more than 35 000 new housing units could have been built with that money,” he said.
“I will submit further parliamentary questions to establish how the tenders to build these units were awarded and what measures are in place to have the contractors responsible blacklisted nationally.”
Gana said the minimum standards for quality housing units should be “vigorously enforced” by all levels of government.
Mabaya said most of the problems related to houses built in the late 1990s, before there were proper standards or systems of checking in place.
He said the Eastern Cape had a bigger problem, due to that province’s department struggling to spend housing money and then being under administration around 2007-2008.
That resulted in the big contractors “running away” from the Eastern Cape, he said, leaving small contractors, who struggled to do the work.
In addition, there is a traditional movement of skilled people out of the Eastern Cape to provinces like Gauteng and the Western Cape, he said, which worsened the problems.
Mabaya said Human Settlements now ran its own investigation unit to check up on problems in housing schemes, which co-operated with the Special Investigating Unit.
He hinted that the department expected prosecutions to follow soon.
The department now focused on bigger housing schemes, with more expertise to keep check on developments.
“They are working better than the smaller ones,” he stated.
Mabaya also said the National Home Builders Registration Council had set in place standards, which had helped tremendously, resulting in “radical” transformation of housing schemes.