Ricochet News

'Metro wants to spend millions to demolish houses already demolished free of charge'

By Afikile Lugunya - May 14, 2018
'Metro wants to spend millions to demolish houses already demolished free of charge'

The Nelson Mandela Bay Metro will be using around R8 million from the R178.8 million Urban Settlement Development Grant (USDG) that it got from National Treasury to demolish several poorly-constructed duplex flats in Motherwell, Port Elizabeth.

Councillors agreed last week to ensure the R178.8 million municipal grant does not return to National Treasury at the end of the financial year in June.

The duplexes, which are part of a failed housing project in the area, have become both an eye-sore and a source of concern for local residents.

In October last year, a 14-year-old girl was raped and killed in one of the buildings.

The next month, in November, a local man, Zolani Nkombisa, was killed when one of the buildings collapsed on top of him while he was apparently busy stealing bricks with his two friends for use elsewhere.

Residents, evicted elsewhere, had called on the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality to either complete the unfinished duplex flats in the area and allocate them to housing beneficiaries or to just demolish them.

Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality MMC of Human Settlement, Nqaba Bhanga, blamed the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) for the failed Motherwell NU29 housing project.

He advised angry residents not to demolish the structures as it was dangerous.

This year, demolishing the problematic duplexes was one of the projects that were allocated funds on the USDG budget.

“R8 million has been put aside to demolish those structures and that R8 million is not only for the demolishing but also to assess the structures because we cannot just go there and demolish, there must be a process that must be taken,” Bhanga, told RNEWS.

Ironically, when RNEWS visited the area, most of the duplexes have already been demolished by residents, who still insisted that “they were the cause of several criminal activities that occurred in the area.”

Speaking for the community, Vulikhaya Phasiya, said that he was shocked to learn that the municipality would need millions to demolish houses that have already been demolished by the community "free of charge".

“We still want houses and were forced to demolish the houses that were already built because we were informed that they were not safe," he described.

“Now instead of building houses for us, they invest millions to demolish structures that are not even there, they are wasting money that should be put to good use."

Quizzed for comment, Bhanga said that a press briefing will be called to discuss the matter further when the municipality is ready to start the “demolishing” project.

“There are certain structures that are unoccupied; houses that were not demolished - that look complete, but are not occupied and those are the houses that we are talking about because they are not safe.

“I think there are 147 structures that need to be demolished, which were not approved by the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC). Whether they are demolished or not demolished, they have been included in that list of 147 structures that need to be attended to."

Bhanga also said that it is not the municipality that should be responsible for paying for the demolishing of those houses in the first place because it wasn’t their project but of the NHBRC.

Therefore, they will ensure that every cent the municipality will spend on the demolition project is refunded by the NHBRC.

“That is fruitless expenditure, you have insurance for a house, then the insurance must pay,” Bhanga described.

Local Ward Councillor, Morgan Tshaka, could not comment on the matter.