Wallacedene Nomzabalazo Project
Statement by Bonginkosi Madikizela, Western Cape Minister of Human Settlements
The recent media reports regarding a project in Wallacedene that is being investigated for poor workmanship has reference.
Minister September's visit to Wallacedene highlighted concerns in the Nomzabalazo project that is currently delayed by the supplier having run out of funds. It is however not the project that is being referred to in the media reports of 8 April (Cape Times) and 9 April (New Age). The Nomzabalazo People’s Housing Process (PHP) Project was only approved in 2012 for the construction of 200 units and the media refers to a project that was supposed to have been completed in 2011 and which was approved for 400 units. The only PHP project that fits the latter description in the Wallacedene area is that of Sakhuxolo PHP which was applied for in 2008 as a PHP project during ANC's administration, it is one of the 46 blocked projects, affecting15 000 households that I spoke about during my budget speech.
The name of the project is Sakhuxolo project and is located in Wallacedene, Kraaifontein. The project was approved for 400 units utilizing the PHP programme. What should be noted was that at that stage no PHP projects were subject to National Home Builders Regulatory Council (NHBRC) project or home enrolment and was undertaken by emerging contractors as appointed by the Support Organisations, which meant no quality assurance was done by the ANC administration.
Later the project became blocked after the construction of 281 units due to the contractor leaving the site and allegations of fraud and mismanagement of funds were also reported to the Department. During 2011 the Department undertook a survey of the project in order to assess the reports on poor quality and incomplete units together with many others in a similar situation. A number of issues were highlighted by the official study and related to claims, progress payments and quality issues. The report also indicated that, in addition to the poor quality issues, the Contractor Supplier does not give feedback to the Support Organization regarding problems and delays and that the Chairperson of the Support Organization lacked the necessary knowledge and skills to manage the project.
In 2012 with the appointment of the Professional Resource Teams (PRT) the Department referred the unblocking of the project to the PHP PRT but by March 2013 it was discovered that the numerous community engagements undertaken by the PRT did not provide the Department with the necessary technical information to proceed with the unblocking. It was then decided to utilize the Cuban Technical Advisers to undertake a more accurate survey of the percentage on-ground audit of the project and that the Department would undertake the unblocking of the project. The department was of the opinion that the beneficiaries should not be penalised for the conduct of people whom they had entrusted with the administration and management of their projects and that beneficiaries originally approved to the project should still receive the benefit of the subsidy as originally intended and receive a house in a fully habitable state.
As at April 2013 the following was reported and submitted to the Department for approval for the purposes of unblocking the project:
- 281 units were completed; however a portion of these units required remedial work
- 27 houses were to be constructed allocating the latest subsidy quantum;
- 53 houses were in various stages of completion and quotations would be required to attend to these units;
- 39 houses required remedial work and quotations would be requested for these units;
Apporval was therefore granted for the unblocking of the project in order to complete the construction of the remaining 119 houses, which included the units that were in various stages of completion, and those that required remedial work, in line with the Minister’s approval, based on the following conditions:
- To re-issue the subsidy amount for a 42m² house, based on the relevant subsidy quantum for the current financial year, to those beneficiaries that were previously approved to the project and against whom payment was previously made yet the site remained vacant;
- To re-issue the committed subsidy amount for a 30m² house, based on relevant subsidy quantum for the financial year, to those beneficiaries previously approved to the project against whom payment was previously made (minus the amount previously paid out) and who received a partially constructed house. Payment in these cases would be made against the actual cost for the completion of each unit; and
- To make available the full subsidy amount for a 40m² house, based on the relevant subsidy quantum for the financial year, to those beneficiaries previously approved to the project against whom payment was not previously made.
The project was finally approved in September 2013 and it was agreed that it would be implemented in a phased approach where units would be constructed in phases for ease of completion. Phase I would consist of the new built units whilst Phase II would require a Bill of Costs on every unit to determine the amount needed to complete these. It was also proposed that tenders be invited for the units to be completed in Phase II of the project that were in line with the amount specified by the Bill of Costs exercise. The Project Approval Committee also attached the following conditions to the project:
- The project be implemented in a phased approach with the first phase being the construction of houses where no construction had taken place;
- A complete and detailed assessment be done on the unfinished houses to ensure an accurate cost estimate of the job required to complete these and to avert continuous requests for additional funding;
- Caution to be taken on the creation of expectation that all houses including those that are only lacking regular maintenance to be included;
- A Structural Engineer to confirm the integrity of the foundations on which new houses are to be constructed; and
- The latest subsidy quantum to be applied to all units and expenditure to be based and released on actual cost.
All of these conditions were implemented and the construction eventually commenced in November 2013 and is progressing very well. To date there are 62 units under construction and approximately 40 have reached roof level, 20 are at wall-plate level and there are 2 slabs that have been cast. The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the Department recently undertook a site visit to the unblocked project and commended the PHP Directorate for its initiative in undertaking the unblocking in this manner and for the quality of workmanship being displayed. It is understood that progress is considerably slower as some units required levels of demolition prior to commencement of new structures. It is important to note that the units in this project have now also been enrolled with the NHBRC which was not a requirement of the PHP programme in the past.
It is my opinion that any allegations regarding poor workmanship could possibly relate to the other phases of this project and this will be addressed as part of the phased approach of the Department’s unblocking strategy.
Minister September undertook this visit without informing me as her counterpart in the Province. It is clear her intention was to try and embarrass my department and the DA led provincial government, in order to gain political mileage. She made populist statements without getting all the facts from me and my department. I'm sure the public will be happy to know that it is in fact her own political party that let the people of Wallacedene down and my department has subsequently had to clean up the mess left by the former ANC provincial government.