Shoddy village houses ‘practically falling apart’

Ntabethemba and Tentergate villagers are appalled by the shoddy RDP houses that are “practically falling apart”, but were built last year by a contractor employed by the Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM).

Attention to the problem in the housing project by the local authority in the villages was drawn by DA councillor Carol Boast, who said complaints by residents regarding the houses fell on deaf ears.

The Rep reporter visited the villages last Friday and spoke to some residents who indicated the houses were not safe and that others were unoccupied due to the lack of running water and electricity.

Boast said she was distressed that the contractor was still on site, building more houses before they repaired the ones they had incorrectly built.

Who are they even building these houses for? Young people have left the villages and the elderly can not move into them because they are not safe and there is no water and electricity. I am distressed about what is going on in these villages, there are not even roads for tankers to deliver water to the people. The elderly who only have a wheelbarrow and a bucket would find it difficult to collect water from the tanks. What will happen when completely run out and that is possible because we are a drought-stricken area?” she asked.

Boast said in Mitford, RDP houses that were recently built also did not have water and electricity and were left unoccupied, resulting in vandalism.

Ntabethemba resident Luzuko Witbooi said he moved into his RDP house last year but it already had cracks and he felt it was unsafe.

All the houses here have the same problems, they are not stable. The reason for the cracks in the walls is that they did not incorporate brickforce when they build them. If they did, it must have been very minimal usage. The fascia boards are peeling off. We have complained about these problems to the EMLM housing department when they came to inspect the houses in November, but they have not returned to assist us.”

A Tentergate resident who did not want to be named said about 100 RDP houses were built in the village last year and that the contractor was said to be back repairing problems in all of them.

I think the problem is the contractor who said they were able to build houses but did substandard work. Now they are back doing again what they had already done. I heard they were expected to conclude their work in our village after the Easter weekend and people would be able to move into the houses then. They have dug trenches for the water pipeline so they are working on the water issue. Regarding electricity, people were promised gel stoves while they waited for electricity to be connected, but there was no indication when that would happen.”

The resident said some houses had their roofs blown away by recent winds, but that was not biggest problem in the project.

Representatives from the housing department visited the village this month and told people to open their houses and indicate what their problems were. The main issue is the toilets. They dug shallow pit toilets and after it rained heavily recently, the toilets began sinking into the ground. This is a huge concern for us and we hope they will fix the toilets just like they are fixing the houses.”

EMLM spokesman Lonwabo Kowa said the municipality played the role of identifying beneficiaries in the housing project and that the human settlements department was responsible.

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