PE residents protest at delays in handing over houses

Construction company blames municipality

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Photo of protesters talking to police
Port Elizabeth residents blocked roads yesterday in protest at delays in housing. Photo: Joseph Chirume

Port Elizabeth residents blocked major roads yesterday to protest against delays in building houses they had been promised by the municipality.

More than 200 angry residents of NU12B blocked the R334 and R335 roads to Addo and Uitenhage.

Two years ago the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality embarked on a programme to rebuild hundreds of houses which had been badly built.

The protesters gathered at a construction site on NU12 where they protested against the slow delivery of their houses.They said they were moved into shacks when their houses were destroyed and are still living in the shacks six months later.

Residents say they have been waiting for promised houses for too long. Photo: Joseph Chirume

Resident Ncedo Mafa, 52, said he had been moved into a shack at the back of his house in September last year.

“I came here in 2011 and got this house in bad shape. It was badly built with its roof leaking and window panes were collapsing. In September last year I was told to build a shack at the back as the builder destroyed the main house. Since then nothing has come out of it. I have an asthmatic daughter who can not continue living in the shack. It is cold and wind blows dust into it.”

Another resident, Nomfanisi Phansi, said she was overjoyed when her house was chosen for rebuilding.

“These new houses are smart and comfortable. When I moved into the shack I thought it was going to be temporary. But now my hope of living in a better house is fading. I regret they destroyed my house in the first place.”

She lives with her three daughters and seven grand children, all unemployed. Her shack has two rooms and the corrugated iron roof leaks.

Residents said 97 houses had been targeted for reconstruction. Only 30 had been rebuilt and the other 67 were unfinished.

Uphahla Construction Company, the company tasked with the construction of the 97 houses, said there had been a problem with payment by municipal officials.

CEO Wayne James said the company hoped to get going soon.

Nelson Mandela Bay human settlement portifolio committee member, Councillor Nomvusilelo Tonsi, said pressure had been put on the officials responsible to pay the contractors.

“We are politicians. We don’t deal with cash,” she told the protesters. “We listen to residents and relay your grievances to officials from the department. I am only here to listen to your problems and the officials will respond to that.”

Protesters said they would keep up the pressure on Tonsi for the department to pay the contractors so the houses could be completed.

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TOPICS:  Government Housing

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