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Lerato Park houses falling apart

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While a renovation project is under way at the Lerato Park housing development, residents feel short-changed and would prefer it if their homes were demolished and rebuilt.

Residents in Lerato Park are complaining about the work being done on the units in the area. Picture: Soraya Crowie

WHILE a renovation project is under way at the Lerato Park housing development, residents feel short-changed and would prefer it if their homes were demolished and rebuilt.

Community leader Alfred Itumeleg Selloane said a forensic audit conducted by the National Home Builders Registration Council found that the quality of construction was sub-standard.

“All of the 491 houses are falling into disrepair. The presidential nodal project is being used like an ATM. Work is not being done according to specification. The geotechnical report on the suitability of the soil was never done. This could be the reason why the cracks in the walls are always reappearing,” said Selloane.

He stated that millions of rand worth of maintenance and repairs that were carried out in 2013 and 2018 was “wasted” as no lasting improvements were visible.

Residents said that despite attempts to repair their homes, the walls were continually cracking, roofs were leaking and the staircases were crumbling.

“Whenever it rains the water enters the house through the roof, while some of the foundations are damp. We had to replace the window frames as they are not airtight.”

Deep cracks in the walls of Lerato Park Phase 1 homes. Picture: Soraya Crowie

The homeowners added that in the nine years that they had been staying in the Lerato Park houses, the doorways had never been widened.

“The base of the bed has to be broken and carried up the steep staircase in order to fit it into the upstairs bedrooms.

“It feels as if the stairway is going to collapse if you put any weight on it. It also poses a danger to the children.”

The staircase in some of the flats are falling apart, causing a danger to the residents in the units. Picture: Soraya Crowie

Residents living in the free-standing houses added that the boundary walls separating them from their neighbours had never been extended.

“A grandmother was raped after an intruder jumped over the wall and entered her home through the roof a while back. There is not much privacy.”

Occupants of the semi-detached houses stated that extensions that were made now meant that they no longer had a yard or front garden.

“There is no firewall and we are now right on top of the neighbouring houses. How are we supposed to hold funerals, parties and family gatherings at our homes or even play loud music?

“There is no space to park our cars behind the gate so we will have to leave our vehicles outside where the rims and wheels may be stolen. There is not even space to hang our laundry.

“Some of us do not want our properties to be extended as we were never consulted on the design.”

Selloane added that repairs were supposed to be completed on all 491 houses including free-standing, single and semi-detached flats.

“The community was shown a video clip of how their homes would be transformed into modern, upmarket spaces. Instead the semi-detached flats are being extended where neighbours will not be afforded any privacy. It is also a fire hazard where adjoining structures have no boundary walls.”

He added that while residents were supposed to be provided with rental accommodation until the repair work was completed, those residing in free-standing houses had to move their furniture and belongings in and out of the house daily and had to put up with the paint fumes.

“The contractor was supposed to fix all the street lights that are not working as well as the leaking sewage, but we are still waiting.”

Northern Cape Department of Co-operative Governance, Human Settlement and Traditional Affairs (Coghsta) spokesperson Babalwa Mzambo explained that the deterioration of the houses was due to the severity of the surrounding ground conditions and the poor workmanship/materials.

“It is the employer’s objective to remedy any defects which were identified in the site assessment to ensure a better living environment for the home inhabitants,” said Mzambo.

“This contract is for the repair of 240 free-standing units, 116 semi-detached and 135 duplex houses that are all currently occupied. New staircase will also be constructed at the 135 duplex units because the current staircases don’t meet the minimum requirements.”

She stated that MSK Construction (Pty) Ltd was awarded a contract to carry out remedial work on 491 RDP houses in Lerato Park that were constructed during Phase 1.

“Before the project started, the preferred design was discussed with the previous ward councillor, Paul Kock. The drawings and video of the design was presented to the community by Paul Kock and Godfrey Kwagile from Bigen Africa.”

Mzambo indicated that the new ward councillor, Robert Kok was briefed and informed about the project whereupon the details of the project were again discussed with the community.

“Officials from the Coghsta regional office addressed the community two weeks ago in Lerato Park. House owners with space constraints were requested to submit their complaints so that a thorough investigation can be done. Both the community and councillor have been involved by the contractor throughout the process taking place in Lerato Park.”

She said options to rectify the staircases were “very limited”.

“Reworking thereof poses a safety threat. The appointed architect is in the process of looking at other options where space is a problem.”

The department indicated that the project should be completed by January 2024.

The semi-detached houses in Lerato Park have been described as a danger as the two units do not have a dividing wall up to the roof. Picture: Soraya Crowie
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