Durban to plead for housing funds
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Durban - Durban city bosses are digging into the coffers for emergency funding to pay for work already done to refurbish thousands of houses built in impoverished areas before 1994.
This is after money promised by the provincial government for an eight-year project has not materialised.
In the meantime eThekwini Municipality has stopped work on the R3.7 billion programme.
Mayor James Nxumalo said he would hold an urgent meeting with Human Settlements MEC Ravi Pillay on Thursday.
Subsidies not filtering down from provincial government was a “big problem” and the city was owed R3.7bn in total.
The situation had become so serious that it would affect service delivery, Nxumalo said. “There are wide-ranging implications and we need to sort it out,” he said.
The redevelopment project, which has been planned to take place over eight years, affects 40 000 homes in KwaMashu, Inanda, Hambanathi, uMlazi and Ntuzuma.
The city’s executive committee heard on Tuesday from officials that the provincial Human Settlements Department had not paid the R227 million required.
The province had only paid R47m for the 2013/14 year and R20m for the 2014/15 financial year.
The anticipated expenditure for the 2014/15 year was more than R407m, a report to the executive committee (exco) revealed.
Work included repairs to structural defects, underpinning foundations, removing and replacing roofs, rebuilding complete units and painting.
On Tuesday, officials pleaded with exco to release R25m in “emergency” funding to pay contractors - many of them small and emerging businesses - for work they had already done.
They needed the money to pay workers and for supplies purchased. The city also needed to increase the current budget by R140m to facilitate current payments to service providers, the officials said.
According to a report presented to councillors on Tuesday, the municipality needed to provide bridging finance for the project until it was reimbursed by the province.
“An amount of R67m has been received from province leaving a difference of approximately R400m to be recovered,” the report said.
“Representations have been made to province for an urgent meeting to provide the funding for the expenditure incurred on the project.”
The report said that if money was not made available it could lead to job losses, emerging contractors not being able to pay staff and angry residents.
Since December the city has not commenced with any new refurbishment work and has instructed contractors to complete only work that had already begun.
Nigel Gumede, chairman of the city’s human settlements committee, said some people had moved out of their homes, expecting them to be demolished and rebuilt, only to discover the project had been halted.
Councillor Fawzia Peer said that exco would support the mayor taking a high-level delegation to meet the MEC.
Exco approved making R25m available for urgent payments to the contractors and increased the current budget by R140m to facilitate current payments to service providers.
It also agreed to make presentations to the provincial government to fund the balance of the R140m.
Mbulelo Baloyi, spokesman for Human Settlements, said on Wednesday: “As you are aware the MEC is meeting the mayor and the eThekwini delegation (on Thursday) to discuss this and other matters. The MEC would prefer to issue any statement after that meeting… at this stage we all have to work in accordance with budgets, business plans and payment procedures.”