Chris Hani backs out on commitment to eradicate temporary shelters

STRONG STATEMENT: Chris Hani District Municipality mayor Wongama Gela     Picture: ANDISA BONANI

This Chris Hani Municipality says it no longer has the capacity to build suitable homes for the more than 1200 families using temporary shelters in the district and will now rather be focusing on its primary service mandate of water and sanitation provision.

The matter was brought to the attention of council by the Chris Hani mayor, Wongama Gela, during an ordinary sitting held virtually on Wednesday.

The emerging housing program is aimed at replacing temporary shelters in the district which has almost 1300 people living in temporary homes. It was started in 2011 after the department of human settlements granted developer status to the district municipality to help deliver the needed service.

Gela said because of the financial position of the municipality it was now more desirable to refer the program back to the department of human settlements and the municipality to focus on water and sanitation.

“We are all aware of the current financial position of the district which is that the municipality does not have the capacity to carry out the work and then claim back. We have been advised to refer this work back to human settlements so that the municipality can focus on our primary duties which are water and sanitation.”

Although the municipality was to be reimbursed by the department for work done, difficulties encountered in the first phase of building 427 houses led to additional unbudgeted costs which human settlements would not pay for.

“Some of the problems we have encountered include finalising the list of beneficiaries which is supposed to be done and submitted by local municipalities. It has been a struggle and, as a result, it is hard to proceed. The second problem is that the designs which were given when this project was handed to Chris Hani can no longer be implemented because the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) insists they must be amended. The new engineer is unable to satisfy the designs and provide a guarantee because they were not drawn up by it. The engineer insists on starting from scratch which means additional financial implications, something not budgeted for and which the department refuses to pay for,” said Gela.

Thus far in the 427 phase, nine houses had been handed over in Intsika Yethu municipality, 10 were still being finalised at Sakhisizwe and 91 other units had been halted because the engineer was suspended.

The recommendation was adopted without any objections from the floor.