THE KwaZulu-Natal Department of Human Settlements has failed to submit plans for over 700 homes at a housing project in Imbali.
Yesterday it was revealed that 723 houses in a project at Imbali Unit 13 phase four were built without a single plan being submitted to the Msunduzi Municipality.
In another problematic drawn-out project at Mooi River, just one house has been built and 59 foundations laid, at a cost of over R500 000. The Witness reported previously that the project tender had been awarded in 2007.
These projects were discussed by the Human Settlements Portfolio Committee in the Legislature yesterday. The discovery that no plans were submitted to the municipality was made when the committee visited the Imbali Wirewall Housing Project yesterday.
They found a stalled project with houses being vandalised and criminal elements using unfinished houses as their dens.
Msunduzi official, Radha Gounden, told the parliamentary committee at the site that the Department of Human Settlements usually submits plans for its projects, but in this case it did not.
He said the municipality had on several occasions asked both the implementing agent Masiqhame Trading and department officials for plans but to date none had been received. It is a legal requirement that plans for all new buildings in a borough be submitted to the municipality. Legally, there must be site inspections to ensure that the builders are complying with the approved plans.
The Witness has learnt that the Human Settlements official who initiated the project and failed to follow procedure has since resigned leaving his colleagues to sort out the mess.
Although the portfolio committee members were not happy about the project they wanted a way forward.
MEC for Human Settlements, Ravi Pillay, said an independent project team would be appointed to assess the houses built to see whether they could collapse.
Based on the audit report it will be decided whether the project should continue or whether anyone should be held liable for shoddy work.
Irate community members told the parliamentarians that they previously lived in houses reinforced by wire, which rusted. They said the walls of their homes had crumbled and that they were told that the provincial human settlements department would be providing them with houses.
Their wire-walled houses were demolished and they were housed temporarily in corrugated iron structures. Resident Alison Bekwa said the houses are cold in winter, hot in summer and no shield against the wind, while their new houses stand as if in ruins.
Bekwa said they were promised that the houses would take only three months to build.
“Now we are victims of crime. I moved to my unfinished house because I can’t afford to pay rent [at alternative accommodation] anymore,” he said.
Department officials gave the portfolio committee an undertaking that the Phumlas project in Mooi River with only one house built so far, will be completed in the 2012/2013 financial year.
Dr Bheki Shabane said the department will be working with the municipality on the project.