Durban - The eThekwini Municipality spent almost R32 million repairing shacks that were razed by fires in the Clare Estate area, raising the ire of opposition councillors, who hauled city officials over the coals about the cost.
A report presented to the municipality’s finance committee listing the various contracts awarded by the city as of the end of July, showed that R31.4m was paid to repair shacks after a fire disaster at the Kennedy Road informal settlement, and R952 000 at the nearby Burnwood informal settlement.
DA councillor Deochand Ganesh, a member of the city’s finance committee, questioned the spending, asking whether the city was getting “value for money”.
“With the amount spent on the Kennedy Road informal settlement, we could have built 180 RDP houses,” Ganesh said.
“We should not be spending money on repairing shacks that are only going to be torn to rubble in a few years’ time to make way for houses. The city needs to ensure that we spend ratepayers’ money appropriately.”
But city treasurer Krish Kumar said the amount paid was not only to supply residents with materials to rebuild their shacks, but to stabilise the sites around them.
He said part of the funding came from the provincial government. “The average spend per house is around R5 000,” Kumar said last week.
It costs on average R90 000 to build one low-cost house.
The Kennedy Road informal settlement fire occurred in June, after a paraffin stove was knocked over in one of the shacks. The fire left 700 families destitute.
Those that could not be accommodated with family or friends were put up in the local hall and makeshift emergency shelters.
The Burnwood informal settlement fire in April was believed to have been caused by a spark ignited by an illegal electricity cable. Around 147 shacks were destroyed.