Housing project in oThongathi incomplete 5 years later

Sites at the Umbhayi housing development project. File Picture: Supplied

Sites at the Umbhayi housing development project. File Picture: Supplied

Published Apr 13, 2023


Durban - Work on the multimillion-rand Umbhayi housing project in oThongathi is expected to resume later this year, with the tender expected to be awarded in August.

The project was first launched in 2017 at a cost estimated at R120 million. It was meant to benefit hundreds of needy families but has been lying fallow, falling into a state of disrepair and without having benefited a single person.

The delays, also reported on by last year, have raised the ire of the opposition parties in the eThekwini council who are demanding answers and said failure to complete this and other projects was a blight on the City which undermined it in the eyes of the community expecting services.

Oscar Kunene, a strategic executive in the human settlements unit, eThekwini Municipality, said work on the project would soon resume and about 1 000 people were expected to benefit once it was completed.

He said the tender to complete the project was issued two weeks ago and they expected it to be awarded by August. The work would then resume.

Kunene said the project aimed to accommodate people living in an informal settlement in the area.

The project would be completed in phases.

But councillors were unimpressed by the delays.

DA councillor Zamani Khuzwayo said they were concerned about the project.

Last year, Khuzwayo, along with DA councillors Dolly Munien and Xoliswa Mdlazi, conducted an oversight inspection at the development.

“The housing project was launched at the time of the then-mayor Zandile Gumede. It was valued at R120m,” said Khuzwayo yesterday following another visit to the site.

“We are not certain about how much money has been spent on the projects to date but the services (sewer and other infrastructure) are in place and houses that have been built are at 30% completion. There is one block nearing completion but it has been vandalised and stripped.”

Khuzwayo said the site had almost been abandoned as no work had been carried out for at least a year.

“We questioned the department leading this project and were told last year that the house will be completed by March this year. I went back and checked and to no surprise, nothing has been done. Even then, when they tried to explain away the delay, the explanations they gave were unconvincing. It was clear even then that despite promises, the project will not be completed by their stipulated date.

“The retaining wall appears to be an accident waiting to happen, raising more concerns about the quality of the workmanship.

He said the officials claimed that the project was delayed because community members had protested and there was also the impact of Covid-19 which led to delays until the contract expired.

IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said it was now commonplace that projects were not completed.

He said the party would visit the project to assess it and the challenges.

Nkosi said the main reasons for projects stalling lay in the municipality appointing contractors that lacked capacity and the emergence of business forums that extorted contractors, forcing projects to stall.