S'bu Zikode of the Abahlali Movement. PICTURE: GCINA NDWALANE
S'bu Zikode of the Abahlali Movement. PICTURE: GCINA NDWALANE

Auditor-General's report flags poor workmanship of eThekwini Municipality housing projects

By Thami Magubane Time of article published May 10, 2021

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DURBAN - HOUSING projects under construction by the eThekwini Municipality have been flagged for taking too long to complete and for poor workmanship.

A recent report by the office of the auditor-general raised concerns about two projects implemented by the city.

They were flagged in the A-G’s audit outcome report tabled recently for the 2019-20 financial year.

The municipality achieved an unqualified audit opinion with findings. This was a positive audit outcome for the municipality, but it also shows stagnation as the municipality has achieved the same audit outcome for the past three years.

In its report, the A-G flagged the housing project at the Kennedy Road Dodoma site where the municipality has built about 45 houses at a cost of R9 million. Also flagged was the Amaoti housing project, where the municipality is building about 948 houses at a cost of R98m.

The Mercury understands from shack-dwellers movement Abahlali baseMjondolo that the Kennedy Road project is complete, and some houses have been invaded.

There are also questions about the quality of the workmanship on the project. The A-G’s report said, in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, that the municipality initiated a strategy to de-densify informal settlements as a measure to provide proper housing to the homeless in the eThekwini area.

“The project was not completed by the planned completion date, and quality defects such as structural cracks and exposed steel reinforcement bars were noted during the inspection of the houses (top structure)… the terrain adjacent to the block of housing units had collapsed against the newly constructed houses, which were blocked off by approximately a metre high of soil,” the report read.

IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said they had previously raised questions about the project. “Even before the A-G raised concerns about these projects, we questioned them. We were aware they existed, but we have never been furnished with any status update.”

Nkosi said it was clear there had been poor management. “It is clear that the officials have not been honest in doing their work, and as long as there is no consequence management where people are fired or suspended for not doing their jobs, we will continue to have such situations,” he said.

DA councillor Thabani Mthethwa said these projects were a classic example of how things could go wrong if there was no proper planning in place.

“We expect that the needs of the community, especially when it comes to housing, should be prioritised, not the power plays between the government departments,” he said.

S’bu Zikode, of Abahlali baseMjondolo, said the houses in Kennedy Road were completed even though no one had officially moved in yet.

“They were completed around December, there have been complaints about these houses, including that they are of poor quality. Some residents have complained that the houses have no foundation, which is extremely concerning as these houses are double-storey houses,” he said.

He said after a fire that burnt down people’s homes in the area recently, some of the houses had been invaded by desperate residents.

The city had said it would only be able to provide comment today.

THE MERCURY

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