Housing project comes to a standstill

The R90 million housing project on the Nyanga has come to a standstill because of unpaid salaries.

Pay us our money. That is the demand from workers involved in the construction of the Breaking New Ground (BNG) houses in Nyanga.

It is alleged that workers at the site have not been paid for three months and workers have now brought construction to a standstill.

This comes barely a month after mayor Dan Plato, human settlements Mayco member
Malusi Booi, Ward 37 councillor Luyanda Nyingwa, Miranda Ngculu Sub-council 14 chairperson Thandi Makasi, and other dignitaries made their way into newly built houses on Sibeni Street, Mau Mau, to cut the ribbon and hand over the keys to some of the residents of the informal settlement.

The City of Cape Town built 432 state-subsidised Breaking New Ground (BNG) houses for the backyarders from the surrounding areas of Nyanga, including Mau-Mau and Zwelitsha. The recipients are mostly the elderly and disabled.

The R90 million housing project on the Nyanga site, was supposed to provide housing opportunities to 434 beneficiaries and their families.

Now workers employed to finish the remaining houses are accusing contractors of making their lives a living hell and claim that the two subcontractors and their main contractors have failed to salaries for the past three months. Project steering committee member, Ntombi Hlaphezulu, has blamed one of the main contractors of failing the people of Nyanga and not having paid its workers in March.

“There are a lot of problems on the site. People are tired of being treated like this,” she said. “Remember, it is not the first time this has happened. We have been calling for this contractor to speak to it but it has never come forward. We would also like to know how was this contractor selected if it behaves like this.”

She said she is not sure whether to blame the City of Cape Town’s human settlements department or that of provincial government. So, she said, they reported the matter to all spheres of government. “I am not sure whether we are being undermined simply because we are (from) Nyanga or what. People want houses,” she said.

When Vukani visited the site last Friday, some residents were guarding the houses from vandals.

The City’s Mayco member for human settlements, Malusi Booi, conceded that the project had faced many challenges and that the most significant delay relates to the slow pace of installation of electrical reticulation and pointed out that houses could not be handed over until the electrical installations were inspected and signed off. “The City contracts with the main contractor and not with subcontractors, and therefore the City has limited authority to intervene in this regard. However, the City has given the contractors technical support wherever possible to enable them to reach their payment milestones. This has enabled them to claim payment, which should then be used to pay subcontractors,” he said.

He explained that contractors were being managed and supported as far as possible with the aim of avoiding any further delays. Thus far six houses have been handed over and another 87 have been completed and will be handed over as soon as electricity is installed.