Tokyo spot-on on shoddy low-cost houses

24th August 2012

Editor –

I agree with Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale that many of the building contractors who are appointed by municipalities do not deliver the quality of subsidised houses that is expected.

In many instances, you are saddled with a contractor that has gone through all the supply chain processes but cannot deliver the required product. Further, most of the time, the contract period will have to be extended owing to the fact that the contractor has to repeatedly come back to complete outstanding work and/or undertake repairs, resulting in additional costs to the municipality in terms of professional fees, and so on. Once a contractor has been appointed, it is difficult to cancel the contract. The long and short of this is that the community and beneficiaries are being prejudiced. The National Home Builder Registration Council has also not been very effective in these matters.
Besides the thought of a State-owned construction company, I have always been of the opinion that every region should have a government warehouse that is centrally located for the supply of the material to these housing projects. The materials and quantities are all standard as prescribed by the various provinces for all the subsidised houses and can, therefore, be manufactured and supplied in bulk.

This mass production will not only reduce the price of materials drastically, but will also reduce delays in the delivery thereof. Many times, contractors will have the excuse that stock is not available and construction is delayed. Contractors also do not pay their accounts with the suppliers timeously, and the supply is then held back until the accounts have been settled.
Lastly, there are many areas in which the construction of houses can be streamlined in order to fast-track service delivery to the communities. These government supply warehouses will also create many employment opportunities.
I have been involved in housing projects since 1995 and have experienced these delays and backlogs, much to the frustration of the beneficiaries.
M Fourie