Minister Sexwale Must Launch Enquiry Into NHBRC

Stevens Mokgalapa MP

DA Shadow Minister of Human Settlements

Over the last three months, I have visited housing developments across the country to assess the quality of RDP housing being delivered to South Africans.

Today I visited Lekwa, Govan Mbeki and Victor Khanye Municipalities in Mpumalanga, along with a DA delegation, to assess the quality of the RDP housing in these areas.

Poor workmanship remains a defining characteristic of government-funded developments.

The inferior quality of the developments I have visited in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga raises serious questions around the capacity of the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) to protect housing consumers from poor workmanship.

The NHBRC is the regulatory body of the home building industry.

I will today be writing to Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale to request that he launch a full enquiry into the performance of the NHBRC, and its ability to ensure housing consumers are protected from substandard workmanship.

Each of the developments I have visited would had to have received a stamp of approval from the NHBRC, yet many of them showed signs of sub-standard workmanship.

It is the responsibility of the Department of Human Settlements to ensure that the NHBRC is overseeing the quality of these structures.

In the municipalities that we visited today, we saw evidence of:

* Approximately 2000 houses needing rectification in Rooikopen Extension 4;

* cracked and leaking structures, resulting in people having to vacate their houses;

* muddy trenches alongside the boundaries of houses; and

* leaky toilets and basins, which create a serious health hazard.

What we discovered today echoes the poor quality RDP housing I have seen at various sites across the country:

* In the Umlazi B10 Housing Project in eThekwini, many RDP houses are uninhabitable as a result of poor workmanship. The houses have unstable walls and leak in the rainy season.

* In Wards 44 and 49 in Braamfischerville in Johannesburg, residents showed us how crumbling and dilapidated houses have become health hazards. I saw examples of houses that are built in areas where spring water constantly oozes from the ground, resulting in the growth of algae on interior walls, which poses significant health risks to both adults and children.

* In the Sweetwaters and Tarkastad Housing Projects in the Eastern Cape, I saw how people had no option but to desert their crumbling houses after roof structures fell off. In one case, an elderly lady was forced to occupy a leaking container which was given to her by the municipality after her RDP house fell apart three years ago.

In many of these cases, there is no other option except to demolish these houses and rebuild them.

This year, approximately R930 million was set aside for the rectification of just over 34 000 housing units across the country.

While the need for rectification is undeniable, it is vital that government spends public funds on getting houses built right the first time.

In this way, more people can benefit from state housing opportunities, rather than state money being used to constantly repair poorly built homes. National government should not have to use its resources to repair poorly built homes, but rather to implement innovative solutions, like the delivery of integrated housing projects with a mixture of subsidised, rental and bonded housing units.

I have made numerous attempts to spur Minister Sexwale into taking steps to address the poor quality of housing being delivered by government. The steps I have taken include requesting that Minister Sexwale be called before the Human Settlements Portfolio Committee to explain how building contractors delivering substandard housing have been held to account, and submitting parliamentary questions to determine what steps the Minister will take to ensure that underperforming contractors are blacklisted.

Minister Sexwale must act swiftly to investigate the apparent failure of the NHBRC to deliver on its mandate.

The creation of sustainable human settlements is essential if we are to give our most vulnerable citizens the opportunities they deserve to lift themselves out of poverty.

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