Joseph Chirume, GroundUp
Port Elizabeth – Some 162 double-storey housing units the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality built in Motherwell for R17 million, will probably have to be demolished.
Beneficiaries had expected to move in by 2015, but the condition of the structures, in NU 29, was so poor that the majority of the allocated flats were empty. Roofs, doors, windows and window panes, and wood for the ceilings and floors, had been stolen.
“I have been on the housing waiting list for many years and when my application was approved I was overjoyed, because that was a dream come true,” a 67-year-old resident said.
“However, my happiness was short-lived upon arriving here last year. The ceiling is not stable and makes an irritating noise whenever somebody is walking on the upper floor. The sound is so disturbing that you think the house is collapsing on you. The doors are not strong and anyone can open them from outside.
“The problem is the municipality told us not to fix anything.”
Derrick Ngilozi, 42, is living in his aunt’s flat. He looks after her three children and an 87-year-old grandmother. They moved in last July.
“The main problem with these flats is that they are made up of poor materials. The window panes are loose and there are big gaps under them that allows rain into the houses.
“The staircases are very steep, so old people and the sick cannot climb them. Besides that, the stairs are made of poor wooden material. They are noisy and can break easily.
“We only appeal to the municipality to rebuild these houses, because they are a disaster in waiting. I don’t see these structures lasting more than five years.”
Ngilozi said they had been living in Motherwell, NU 10, in the informal settlement of Powerline.
“It was better there, because we never feared for our lives when in the shack. I always wake up at night here and pray to God not to let the house collapse.”
Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality spokesperson Mthubanzi Mniki said they were waiting for a report from the National Home Builders Registration Council. Some of the units were covered by the council’s insurance, for all defects for five years.
The report would be completed in November. An internal forensic audit, commissioned by the city manager, was also underway.
Once all investigations had been completed, efforts would be made to recoup all fruitless and wasteful expenditure from those involved in the project.