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South Africa: Stalled for Years, Durban Housing Project Faces Further Delays

A R112-million contract has expired and the municipality says it will issue a new tender

  • Two housing projects in a R112-million contract for Clare Estate, Durban, will be delayed yet again.
  • Both projects have suffered significant delays due to Covid lockdowns, civil unrest, labour issues, and disputes over beneficiaries.
  • The Kennedy Road housing project is yet to start, while Barton Place has only 142 cement foundations, eight show houses and 42 half-built duplexes.
  • The builder’s contract expired in early 2022 and eThekwini municipality says it must issue a new tender for the top structures at Barton Place.

Nomakhosazana Ntuli has lived in Kennedy Road informal settlement in Clare Estate, Durban, since 2001. She stays in a small shack with her 23-year-old daughter and four grandchildren.

Since planning started in 2012, Ntuli has been among a dozen residents set to benefit from a RDP housing project in Barton Place. But more than a decade later, the project remains far from complete.

Ntuli’s living circumstances became desperate after her shack burnt down with a thousand other shacks in a fire at Kennedy Road informal settlement in July.

“We waited until we got fed-up. We had voted for the DA, but we lost hope in it after it failed to deliver the Barton Place housing project. Then we went back to the ANC hoping for a change, yet here we are, still waiting,” said Ntuli.

EThekwini municipal spokesperson Gugu Sisilana confirmed the contract with Khuthala Consultant (Pty) Ltd, the company hired to complete the housing top structures, had expired early last year.

Khuthala Consultant owner, Thami Khanyile, was awarded a contract in 2016, with the R112-million confirmed in January 2019. He says this was to provide top structures for 572 RDP houses in Clare Estate: 98 houses in Cornubia, 48 houses in Dodama, 198 double storey, semi-detached houses in Barton Place, and 228 units in Kennedy Road. The contract was expected to be for three years and was meant to be done in four phases. Slabs and engineering services were done by another construction company.

Houses were handed over to beneficiaries of the Cornubia and Dodoma projects, although the electricity connections were not completed in Dodoma. GroundUp found that residents there still rely on illegal connections.

According to Kanyile, construction in Barton Place was meant to start in early 2019, but there were delays with the municipality hiring engineers, and they only started work in 2021. The municipality took 18 months before granting an initial extension, and “this only left a few months” to complete the project, said Kanyile.

Work done so far at Barton Place includes 142 foundations, eight show houses, and 42 houses at first floor stage.

The housing project at Kennedy Road has not started.

Khanyile said he appealed the municipality’s decision not to extend his contract for a second time. He said his company has submitted “all the necessary documents” but he has not heard back from them.

Sisilana told GroundUp that eThekwini plans to put out a new tender for the completion of the top structures.

A June 2022 council meeting states that delays at Barton Place were largely due to the Covid lockdowns, civil unrest, labour issues, and disputes over which wards the project falls under. Ward 24 has a DA councillor and ward 25 an ANC councillor.

Ward 25 Councillor Themba Mkhize (ANC) from Barton Place, said residents are tired of waiting for the projects to be completed. There had been four shack fires in Kennedy Road informal settlement this year alone. “Some residents are still waiting for municipality assistance with [building] material,” he said.

KZN Human Settlements spokesperson Mbulelo Baloyi said the Barton Place project was implemented by eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality under its Informal Settlement Upgrade Programme. The metro gets a special R1.2-billion from the National Treasury via the National Department of Human Settlements.

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