Investigation reveals that only a few beneficiaries have received housing since the project was approved in 2005
INSTRUCTIONS have been given to “urgently rectify” the failures of the Ouboks low-cost housing construction project in Colesberg, which was meant to alleviate overcrowding in informal settlements such as old Ouboks, New Brighton and Asnek.
An investigation found that only a few beneficiaries received housing in the new Ouboks development.
The multimillion-rand project aimed to formalise the area into a township establishment with installed services and the construction of houses, schools, clinics and libraries, although 16 years down the line the conditions have remained unchanged and the project is still incomplete.
The project was approved in 2005 and funded by the Department of Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (Coghsta), where the Umsobomvu Municipality appointed the Pixley ka Seme District Municipality as the developer of the project.
The contractor was unable to finish the project due to financial challenges in June 2013 and the municipality terminated the contract in March 2015, in order to avoid litigation.
A tender was advertised to complete the construction of 1,848 houses in phases that would span over three years, from 2009 until 2012.
Coghsta indicated that it was considering taking over the developer role of the project as the tender prices that were submitted were very high.
The bid specification and bid evaluation committee agreed to award the R115.5 million tender to Quthing Construction.
The municipality was unable to provide the investigation team with the appointment letter or acceptance letter from the contractor or the service level agreement between Pixley ka Seme District Municipality and Quthing Construction.
The contract with Quthing Construction was terminated on March 24, 2015 due to poor performance and poor workmanship.
Challenges identified included the ever-increasing cost of materials, vandalised houses, non-occupation of completed houses, sites that were wrongfully allocated and 34 wall plates that had to be demolished due to poor workmanship.
Coghsta rejected a list of non-approved beneficiaries and wrongfully allocated site numbers that were submitted to them by the municipality.
The investigation pointed out that while the project was identified as a presidential project, only a few houses were built.
“Pixley ka Seme District Municipality only advertised for the construction of 1,848 houses other than the 2,220 that were promised to the community.”
A total of 1,351 beneficiaries were approved while 175 houses are still outstanding.
The investigation report stated that houses were wrongfully allocated by the local/district municipality/Umsobomvu councillors to other approved beneficiaries when the rightful beneficiaries were not present during the handover of the houses.
“This led to the halting of the handing over of title deeds to the beneficiaries as the houses were occupied by the wrongful, non-approved beneficiaries.
“The municipality did not take responsibility or ownership of the project – from the municipal manager, manager of corporate services, section of head community development and housing officials.”
It was noted that Coghsta had rejected all three lists submitted by the municipality during 2019 and 2020 for the 50 approved beneficiaries.
“During the interviews it was found that officials would prepare the priority list, although the list would be changed at the Mayor’s Office. This prevented Coghsta from proceeding with the procurement of a contractor to build the houses in Ouboks.”
The report indicated that Coghsta would oversee the handing over of title deeds, rectification of the beneficiary lists and revive the business plan.
“The manner in which the Ouboks project was managed did not instil confidence in the community and therefore led to the allegations.”