DURBAN: 110214 Advocate Saleem Khan, seated, speaks to legal consultant Arvind Kissoon Singh, Jay Singh, attorney Omprakash Ramlakhan and attorney Rajan Naidoo(glasses) at the Tongaat Mall commission of inquiry yesterday. PICTURE: GCINA NDWALANE

Durban - Durban construction company Woodglaze Trading has been fined a hefty R1.4m for failing to comply with requirements of the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) in a Durban housing project.

This was the outcome of the disciplinary hearing instituted by the NHBRC against Woodglaze, the company owned by Shireen Annamaly, wife of wealthy Durban entrepreneur Jay Singh.

The regulatory authority also tried to have Woodglaze deregistered – effectively meaning an end to its government construction projects. But this failed.

Singh is presently at the centre of a commission of inquiry into the collapse of Tongaat Mall, where two construction workers died and 29 were hurt.

The fining of Woodglaze came weeks after it emerged that it had failed to enrol every one of the 96 houses it had built in Newlands, Durban.

The company was fined R15 000 for each house not enrolled, bringing the total to more than R1.4m.

NHBRC spokesman Molebogeng Taunyane welcomed the decision and said additional penalties would follow for Woodglaze for late enrolment, as NHBRC inspectors would still need to be sent out to ensure that all the houses met national standards.

“The NHBRC is pushing for a zero tolerance approach to shoddy workmanship and late enrolments.

“Our mandate is to protect the interests of housing consumers and to ensure builders comply with building industry standards.

“In terms of the Housing Consumer Protection Measures Act, every home builder is required to be registered with the NHBRC and that all new homes are enrolled with the NHBRC 15 days prior to construction, which Woodglaze failed to do,” said Taunyane.

The NHBRC had hoped Woodglaze would be deregistered from the national housing body, which did not happen, NHBRC’s head of compliance and enforcement, Julia Motapula, said.

“The decision not to deregister Woodglaze was taken by the disciplinary committee which is an independent third party not linked to the NHBRC,” she said.

“The committee felt it would not be in the interests of those home owners affected by this as the NHBRC would still be able to monitor the work and ensure Woodglaze complies and rectifies its work where needed.

“It would also allow us to determine the figure to be put aside for the guarantee fund which will be worked out once the houses are enrolled and our inspectors go out there to ensure compliance,” Motapula said.

“This guarantee fund will remain in place for a period of five years to protect those home owners against any workmanship or claim arising against Woodglaze for the construction of those houses,” she said.

The NHBRC also obtained a court interdict three months ago preventing Woodglaze from continuing its housing construction in Newlands without following the NHBRC’s compliance processes – which included enrolling houses with the organisation before building is begun.

This allows the NHBRC to regulate and ensure technical specifications are being met at every stage of the development.

Woodglaze would now be expected to rectify any concerns raised by the NHBRC over its construction of the units.

Daily News