Department washes its hands of stalled multi-million rand housing project

A stalled housing project in Steadville, near Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal stands incomplete. Picture: Sihle Mavuso/IOL

A stalled housing project in Steadville, near Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal stands incomplete. Picture: Sihle Mavuso/IOL

Published Feb 18, 2023


Ladysmith - The KwaZulu-Natal department of Human Settlement has laid the blame regarding the stalling of the multi-million rand project in Steadville in Ladysmith at the door of the uThukela district municipality.

According to local residents IOL spoke to about the housing project which is visible along the Ladysmith/ Zakheni main road in northern KwaZulu-Natal, it has stalled for over a decade, a claim disputed by the department led by MEC, Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba.

Once finished, the project was supposed to yield 504 units of what are commonly known as RDP houses.

However, years later, the project is in total ruins, with some of the houses now falling apart, while others appear to have been stripped by vandals.

Almost all of them are surrounded by overgrown grass and livestock and goats are always grazing within the project.

Noticeably, the water coming off the hill behind it regularly floods the project site where some unfinished houses have been roofed, while others were left at foundation level.

“This project has been like this for years and even the contractor who was here has since left it.

“I would be lying to you if I say I have a clear answer why it was abandoned. We were hoping people would move in and, boom, it was left like this,” a resident told IOL about the stalled housing project.

The spokesperson of the provincial department, Mlungisi Khumalo said they did all that was required on their side and that district municipality did not, until the project stalled.

“Planning for the project, whose estimated yield is 504 units, began in 2012 and this includes beneficiary identification and administration.

“In 2013 the installation of internal services such as bulk water and sewer reticulation began, as this is a breaking new ground or urban housing project.

“The construction of the top structure (houses) only began in 2019.

“At the inception of the project, the uThukela District Municipality had made an undertaking that it would provide water for the project since it is the local water authority.

“However, as the project progressed with more top structures being completed, it became apparent that the promised water reticulation by the uThukela District Municipality was being delayed as the water pipe capacity was too small for the water and sewer reticulation that was needed for the projected 504 housing units.

“A need arose for the installed water pump station to be enhanced to meet the housing requirements, and the KZN Human Settlements Department had to come in and provide a financial top-up as the district municipality did not have the requisite funds to improve the water pump station.

“In addition, two retaining wall gabions had to be constructed to channel flood water from the nearby mountain so that flood water doesn't encroach on the settlement.

“It was during the re-routing of the bulk sewer pipeline to meet the new requirements of the larger water pipeline, that the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) requested a halt to the continued housing construction till the district municipality attends to the new water and sewer requirements.

“About 200 houses were almost complete and about 200 at wall plates level and 100 slabs cut.

“A few housing units have been vandalised,” Khumalo said.

Khumalo disputed that the contractor left because of payment issues by the department and that he has left the site.

“Presently, the contractor has applied to NHBRC to have the moratorium on construction (lifted) so that he could complete the remaining houses, while the water pump station is being enhanced and finished.

“There is no truth about a contractor not being paid.

“Immediately the NHBRC moratorium is lifted, construction will resume,” he said.

The municipal manager of uThukela, Bongani Mnguni said the issue dates back to the old administration of the ANC which was ousted in November 2021.

"Unfortunately it was never brought to my attention by Human Settlements or any stakeholder with a vested interest.

"UTDM (uThukela) has an audience with Human Settlement on a different matter and this subject was never brought to my attention nor the attention of my political principals.

"I will engage with Human Settlements and look at the merits and demerits of the averment.

"It is worth mentioning that UTDM is committed to providing services to the community, hence we support any venture which is aimed at alleviating the plight of the citizens of uThukela," Mnguni said.

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