Following concerns about the lengthy and litigious process to recoup money from underperforming construction contractors, the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements has requested that government enhance accountability mechanisms against contractors responsible for blocked and unfinished human settlements projects.
The committee highlighted this during the second day of its Gauteng oversight visit to assess progress in the delivery of housing.
The committee will on January 26, visit projects in Sedibeng including the Savannah City megaproject, the Lethabong megaproject and the Sebokeng Extension 30 project.
Committee chairperson Machwene Semenya says there currently exists no “watertight” process to ensure accountability from contractors that continue to leave unfinished projects in their wake. “This unfortunately will continue to cost the State on two fronts – first, the cost escalation as a result of delayed projects, and also the exposure of citizens to undignified houses.”
For this reason, the committee requests a strengthening of consequence management to ensure companies are held accountable.
Further, the committee is concerned that the current process of blacklisting underperforming companies is protracted. This enables those companies to continue tendering for business to build other houses in different cities and provinces, thereby enabling them to continue underperforming elsewhere.
Meanwhile, the committee also emphasises the need for construction companies to empower communities beyond periodic employment opportunities offered during the construction process.
“Interventions such as the building of schools and skills transfer will ensure long-lasting impact on the communities, which should be encouraged,” she says.
The committee also calls for improvements in planning by all spheres of government to ensure the seamless implementation of projects.
“For example, the committee has urged the Ekurhuleni metropolitan municipality to start factoring in their plans the development of the Ekurhuleni University, which was announced by President [Cyril Ramaphosa] a few years ago,” says Semenya.
She adds that the development of bulk infrastructure, capable of serving increased numbers of people as a result of the proposed university, should be planned as a matter of urgency.
The committee, meanwhile, welcomes the completion of rectification work at the John Dube megaproject by the new contractor, with work to implement the project under way.
In addition, the committee also reports that unfinished work at the Palm Ridge megaproject will be completed.