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'Conscience clean': Metro considers legal action over shoddy NU29 housing project

By Afikile Lugunya - Nov 9, 2017
'Conscience clean': Metro considers legal action over shoddy NU29 housing project

The National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRCmust urgently provide the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality with a long-outstanding report into the failed Motherwell NU29 housing project, in Port Elizabeth, and explain why the structures are collapsing.

That is the word from Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality MMC for Human Settlements, Cllr Nqaba Bhanga, who together with Nolwandle Gqiba, the Executive Director for the Department of Human Settlements, addressed the media on Thursday after one of the buildings collapsed and killed a local man, who was apparently stealing bricks from the site.

According to the Metro, the Minister of Human Settlement, Lindiwe Sisulu, and the NHBRC were running away from their responsibility and for that reason, the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality has decided to take legal action.

“The NHBRC must urgently provide a long-outstanding report into the failed NU29 housing project. The report should detail a full analysis of the 730 units, of which 162 are deteriorating despite the NHBRC having certified their construction.

“Having provided construction certification for the NU29 Housing project, the NHBRC should at the very least explain why so many of the structures are collapsing. The Metro is taking legal action against the NHBRC to compel the institution to produce a report and take appropriate action, where required,” Bhanga said.

According to Gqiba, the project was stopped because of structural defects that were picked up by two engineering firms.

“The NHBRC issues the final certificates and then the municipality and the province can then pay because the certificates have been issued," she explained.

“What happened here is this; the certificates were issued without making sure that all the paperwork was in place and the municipality did not approve the designs and contractors were paid for work that was not done properly.

“Structural defectives were built and now we are sitting with a problem because NHBRC didn’t make sure that those were the final designs that were approved by the municipality.”

The NHBRC is a regulatory body of the home building industry. Their goal is to assist and protect housing consumers who have been exposed to contractors, who deliver housing units of substandard design, workmanship and poor quality material. 

Responding to the death of the man, Bhanga added that they will beef up security in the NU 29 area to ensure that residents stay away from the incomplete building structures because they are committing crime by removing bricks for use elsewhere.

He also blamed  the Minister and the NHBRC for two deaths that occurred at the site as a 14-year-old girl was raped and killed in the buildings.

“On Tuesday, a man was killed after a half-built structure collapsed on top of him as he was removing cement blocks from one of the incomplete houses. The housing project has been idle for nearly three years due to a number of factors,” Bhanga said.

“In my understanding, the Democratic Alliance took over while the housing project was already idle. The problem is that the designs for the project were not approved by the City."

For that reason, he said that officials have been suspended for the poor workmanship on the project.

“If the Minister and the NHBRC had ears to listen, we wouldn’t be sitting in this situation. There’s nothing I have not done to fight for this project and my conscience is clean.

“I want the Minister to also be called in court to explain why they failed to make intervention in this crisis," Bhanga said.

“We want her to come and explain why did two people have to die while we’re supposed to be providing shelter for them - the Minister should answer to that and the NHBRC should also answer.”