Transformation in construction materials sector requires closer scrutiny

30th September 2020 By: Donna Slater - Creamer Media Staff Writer and Photographer

Large stakeholders in the construction materials sector need to be more closely scrutinised to determine their true transformation, especially in terms of the empowerment of women, Human Settlements director-general Mbulelo Tshangana said on September 30.

He spoke during the Social Housing Regulatory Authority’s virtual investment summit on September 30, during which he pointed out that, in terms of social housing project development, a significant cost driver was that of procuring construction materials.

Tshangana said that because construction materials accounted for between 60% and 70% of overall project development in social housing projects, the sector required greater scrutiny to ensure the industry was not funding “artificial transformation”.

He also derided the notion of the involvement of “too many players in the business of social and affordable housing”, because for an organisation to deliver a social housing project requires interaction with various professionals, including project managers, engineers and town planners.

These three types of professionals contribute to between 10% to 20% of the overall cost of social housing projects. “Interaction with project developers and contractors probably takes between 30% and 40% of cost drivers.”

“The big questions is how many of these role-players are transformed?” questioned Tshangana. As such, he said, the entire value chain needed to be scrutinised when discussing transformation.

“Real transformation is about making sure all areas [of social upliftment] are attended to.”

SOCIAL HOUSING PRIORITY

Meanwhile, he also said that, at a national level, the Department of Human Settlements had taken a conscious decision to prioritise social housing to address spatial planning and to ultimately make South Africa’s economy more efficient.

As such, Tshangana said the department was prioritising five programmes, which had also been agreed upon by Cabinet. These include social housing, informal settlement upgrades, affordable rentals (specifically social housing), affordable home ownership and title deeds.

The upgrading of informal settlements is important to address issues arising out of increased urbanisation.

In terms of title deeds, he said this was important because, “there is no point giving people sites and houses if they don’t own them”.

“Social housing is about spatial transformation, which in turn will assist the economy in being more efficient,” said Tshangana.

He added that proper social housing should be undertaken to get “young people into well located areas”, thereby ensuring they have quick access to transport to get them to work and back.

“It is too expensive to provide transport services to the periphery.”

Therefore, Tshangana said social housing development was not just about the delivery of social housing, but should also encompass transforming cities and spaces to be located more ideally and to make life easier for inhabitants.