R34 000 to build a one-room home
Durban - Rows of small prefabricated rooms built for the victims of shack fires in Durban’s Kennedy Road and paid for by eThekwini’s ratepayers, cost R34 250 a room to build.
This is only about R10 000 less than it would have cost to build a proper low-cost house.
Yet the sub-contractor who built the emergency transit camp said his work was “perfect” and worth every penny.
The sub-contractor, who asked that his name be withheld, spoke after The Mercury visited the camp at the Kennedy Road informal settlement in Durban last week.
He was sub-contracted by Tauris Garden Trading 500cc, which won the tender to erect the structures in June following a fire in the settlement.
On Friday, there was another fire in the settlement that destroyed more shacks.
“I take pride in my job. I was in the vicinity when this fire broke out and none of the units I built in the transit camp burnt down,” he said.
“Those units could be used as permanent homes because they will last for 50 years.”
He said part of the money paid was spent on levelling the ground ahead of construction.
He also had to build retaining walls to prevent soil erosion.
However, beneficiaries of the transit camp said they were unimpressed by the quality of the work. They said the cheap material used did not justify the money spent. Each unit has prefabricated walls with a zinc roof.
The sub-contractor employed 13 locals to do the work for 10 days and each was paid R120 a day.
Councillors, who are members of the Municipal Public Accounts Committee, raised concerns last week about the amount spent on the structures, which would be demolished after the occupants were awarded low-cost houses.
They would visit the camp at the end of the month to inspect the quality of the work.
The municipality said it cost R45 000 to build a low-cost house with two bedrooms, a kitchen and sitting room. Residents of the transit camp said the temporary 2mx2m structures, each with a single window, were a tight fit.
“A double bed would take up the whole space; my fridge and other furniture doesn’t fit in,” said resident Fuzile Ngqembana.
Tauris Garden Trading 500cc manager Samantha Naidoo said she could not comment as her boss was overseas.
“All I can say is that we have produced quality work under the circumstances,” she said.
She then provided a handwritten breakdown of how the money was spent. It showed that each unit cost R34 250 to built and 700 cost R23.9 million. Preparing the ground and storm water drainage pushed the cost to R26.9m.
Water and communal ablution facilities, and a fire hydrant, still needed to be added, while provision of electricity has not been factored in.