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Contractors will drain excess water at housing project

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The contractors of the R167 million Hull Street social housing project have given the assurance that they will be able to drain the waterlogged houses that are under construction.

Stakeholders and members of the portfolio committee conducted a site inspection in Hull Street. Picture: Soraya Crowie

THE CONTRACTORS of the R167 million Hull Street social housing project have given the assurance that they will be able to drain the waterlogged houses that are under construction.

The three-storey building will accommodate 600 high-density units for low-cost and subsidised housing beneficiaries.

The contractor, Amandla Construction, stated that the ground-level water would be channelled to surface drains on the road.

“The foundation is solid and has been built on dolerite soil, you can see rocks sticking out of the ground. The water is the least of our worries.”

He added that sewerage lines and manholes would be installed in the next four to six weeks.

“We have paid about R1.5 million for the bricks and reinforcing and about R1.4 million for the slabs.”

Residents living in the Hull Street Terrace houses (Smartie Town) believed that the foundations were seeped in underground water.

“It has been there for a long time and will create problems for the new houses.”

A Smartie Town resident complained that they were exposed to mine dust from the nearby redundant mine.

“It is a health hazard and we are suffering from chest problems. The land was donated by De Beers and it is supposed to be for a rent-to-buy scheme but we have been struggling for years to get the title deeds.”

He stated that there were also massive wastewater drainage problems.

“Council cannot solve the problem. There was a sinkhole at one of the homes and our houses are cracking.”

One resident added that she fell down the staircase while she was pregnant as the railings had given in.

“We are paying R1 900 per month for rent and we have been staying here for more than 20 years.”

The waterlogged foundations at the Hull Street social housing project. Picture: Soraya Crowie

The CEO of the Hull Street social housing company, Lungelo Hlangwana, said the geotechnical and engineering reports found the ground to be suitable for development.

“The water is a result of climate change and unusually high rainfall that will evaporate. We will not take short cuts. We have employed 90 percent local labour in the project.”

He added that there was a dust monitoring system.

“A health report found that there is no danger of developing asthma. The water is not coming from the mine, we have seen the hydraulic connection. The mine closed off the slime dam and is busy clearing off the tailings.”

Hlangwana stated that an engineer had inspected the site and found that there were no sinkholes.

“The houses were built in an old mining area and the house in question is a subject of litigation. We offered to fix the house or purchase it from her but she instead chose to go to court. We will not engage in rumours and gossip.”

He stated that the completion of the 20-month construction project was delayed by between three and four months due to the rain.

“We already have a waiting list of about 300 people who will be screened for selection.”

Sol Plaatje executive mayor Kagisho Sonyoni, the chairperson of the portfolio committee for human settlements, Thologelo Collen Malatji, Coghsta HOD Bafedile Lenkoe and Lungelo Hlangwana of the Swedish Social Housing project during a site visit at the housing project in Hull Street. Picture: Soraya Crowie

The HOD for the Department of Co-operative Governance, Human Settlement and Traditional Affairs, Befadile Lenkoe, stated that the Smartie Town houses were structurally sound.

“There are no cracks and these houses have been standing for over 20 years. There is a difference between drainage problems and surface stormwater. If there was water seepage we would have seen it with our own eyes. The new houses are being built on a flat surface and a drainage system has been designed to channel the excess water. If we come back here in the next 30 years this beautiful housing project that we are assisting with will still be standing here.”

He stated that they were looking to purchase land to relocate residents from the Roodepan flats.

“Free-standing houses will be built for 408 beneficiaries after the flats are demolished but it will have to generate income. Some of the residents will be absorbed at the Lerato Park housing project where 4 600 units are being built.”

He indicated that a contractor was on site to rectify the Lerato Park houses that were cracking.

“The previous contractor, Motheo Construction, told us the ‘funeral parlour is at your doorstep’ and referred us to the local contractors when we raised issues of structural challenges that were identified in a forensic report.”

The chairperson of the portfolio committee for human settlements, Thologelo Collen Malatji, added that the Roodepan flats would have to be demolished and the residents relocated.

“It is a disaster that needs urgent intervention as it is on the verge of collapsing. The HOD is busy sourcing land for relocation and a beneficiary list.”

He added that the portfolio committee on co-operative governance and traditional affairs would return to the site after six months to monitor progress.

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