The minister of human settlements has revealed that her department was saddled with nearly two million incomplete low-cost houses that were estimated will cost the taxpayer R300bn.
Cape Town – Human Settlements Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi has revealed that her department was saddled with nearly two million incomplete low-cost houses that were estimated will cost the taxpayer R300 billion.
Speaking to journalists on the housing development progress and priorities yesterday, Kubayi said the issue of incomplete housing units was one of her sore points.
“We are currently quantifying the number and cost of the incomplete projects across the country so that we can approach the Treasury to assist us in exploring funding instruments that will help take the projects to completion,” she said.
She said since April 2019, there were almost 1.9 million housing units that were incomplete.
“These are 1.9 million beneficiaries who, according to the beneficiary list, are regarded as having benefited, but they are still waiting for a house,” Kubayi said.
The minister also said many of the incomplete houses were left at the foundation phase or wall plate, yet contractors that were supposed to do the work went away with the money.
“The rough estimation currently sits at R300 billion, and completion of these projects is important,” she said.
Kubayi noted that some of the beneficiaries could not be re-allocated other houses elsewhere because the units were built on the sites where they lived.
The minister also said the department planned to turn the National Home Builders Registration Council into a centre of excellence.
Kubayi said the issues of houses collapsing or developing cracks should be something of the past.
The use of the warranty funding was not sustainable with the funds the department was allocated, she said.
“It should not be a norm that we have to rectify a year or two after a contractor has left the site. We have to take these contractors to task,” she said.
The minister also revealed that the country was currently saddled with 2 600 estimated informal settlements, and the number would undoubtedly increase.
“We are currently quantifying the work that has been done so far and verifying the data on the targets so that we can design a better approach to this programme,” she said.
Kubayi said the transfer of title deeds for low-cost houses was not at the pace they wanted.
“We have to accelerate the transfer of title deeds to qualifying beneficiaries, including pre-1994 backlogs that still need to be addressed,” Kubayi said.
She also said the transfer of title deeds was worryingly slow and that the nine provinces were not doing well.
“We are looking at strengthening our capacity to pay attention in this area of work. Once we are done and ready we will be able to make further announcements,” she said.
Kubayi also announced plans to do away with asbestos houses as a priority.
“Even though the use of asbestos in our country is banned, our country still has to deal with the legacy of asbestos. The adverse effects of inhaling asbestos fibres have been known for years and this imposes a moral obligation on us to ensure that we rid our communities of this health hazard,” she said
She said they had identified 1 500 houses in Limpopo and the contractor would be on site early next year.
“We hope to further engage with Gauteng. We agreed with the Free State that this is a priority and we have to go back and re-allocate resources to deal with asbestos there,” she said.
The minister noted that there were still mud houses in rural areas which were not protected well enough and could easily be destroyed by wind, rain and flooding, especially in KwaZulu-Natal.
Another critical area was to digitise the beneficiary list.
Kubayi also called on the private sector to partner with the department to deliver on their human settlement mandate.
“We will utilise the Human Settlement Bank, once established and currently with National Housing Finance Corporation, to partner with the private sector to increase the quantity and the pace of development of social housing, low-cost rental and serviced stands,” she added.