South Africa: Nyanga Backyarders Fear Vandals May Cause More Delays to Housing Project

Contractors must accept responsibility for securing the site, says City

The beneficiaries of newly built Breaking New Ground (BNG) houses in Nyanga say they are unhappy with how the City of Cape Town is managing the project.

They claim that the houses, which are vacant, are being vandalised during the lockdown.

But the City's human settlements department has since assured residents that the site is "under control" and that it is the responsibility of the contractor to secure the site.

"We are heading into winter and people are still backyarders, [mean]while the houses are being vandalised. The site should be fenced but that never happened," said Thulani Pike, a community activist from Nyanga.

Construction on the 432 state-subsidised houses started in 2018 and was expected to be completed by February 2019. The project is expected to house backyarders, many elderly and disabled, from areas surrounding Nyanga, including Mau-Mau and Zwelitsha. But the project experienced some delays after workers issued a dispute over payment with the contractor tasked with completing the houses.

Lindiwe Macingwana, deputy chairperson of Mau-Mau's housing committee, told GroundUp that they had reported incidents of vandalism several times to the City. "Last year we asked the City to hand over houses without electricity to avoid houses being vandalized ... The City is not communicating with us as to what is holding up the project," she said.

Mayoral Committee Member of Human Settlements Malusi Booi said, "The sites are under the control and management of the contractors, who must accept responsibility for securing the units. Funding for securing the site has been applied for and was made available to the contractors."

Booi said the project was split into two contracts under separate contractors. He said only 43 completed houses have been handed over. "This was done to secure the units and avoid vandalism. Of these houses, 26 units had minor damages and the rest are all intact," said Booi.

He said the handover of 14 units was delayed due to vandalism of plumbing, electricity, and windows. The second site, managed by another contractor, has 24 completed houses which were also handed over to beneficiaries. Booi said that at the other site, managed by the second contractor, a total of 24 completed units were handed over to beneficiaries.

"Some of these have minor damages while an additional 38 completed but unoccupied houses have been extensively vandalised," said Booi. "The electrical reticulation can commence again after the lockdown period and houses can be handed over shortly after that."

According to Booi, several houses will not be handed over due to disagreement from some community groups over residents from New Cross Roads being included in the project. "These beneficiaries were included after the public participation process in 2016," said Booi.

"The City has been engaging with the said community groups during 2020 to unblock this situation, but it has not yet been resolved," he said.

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