Bleak Christmas as RDP homes demolished

IT MIGHT be a dreary Christmas for many Walmer township residents who have been crammed into tiny rooms because their Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) homes have been demolished as part of a rectification programme.
Domestic worker Mavis Lukwe, 61, is devastated as her Hannie Street home is merely a shell after it was gutted by contractors at the beginning of August.
Lukwe lives with her 84-year-old mother, two children and five grandchildren in a 4x6m² extension to her home that she built with her savings of several years. There is only one bed and the rest of the space is filled with boxes of household items and furniture.
Lukwe – and others in Area G – was told by contractors that her house did not conform to building regulations and they would fix it for free.
But the rectification project was abandoned after two-and-a-half months – apparently due to a lack of funds.
The contractors began pulling up the flooring, took out the windows and doors and built a pitched tiled roof, but no ceiling.
“They then said they can’t come back because there’s no more money,” Lukwe said. “They said their boss didn’t pay them and they’re not working for nothing.”
The incomplete job resulted in her yard being filled with a large amount of rubble, leaving her mother, who is in a wheelchair, stranded.
By the end of September, there were window and door frames, with no windows or doors. There was also no floor or ceiling.
The family cook on a small stove and have a tiny basin in which to wash dishes. The toilet is out in the open and does not have a seat.
“For the month of October there was no activity at her ‘home’ whatsoever, except for constant leaking when it rains, due to the builders leaving gaps between her newly developed extra room,” Lukwe’s employer Kayleigh Heideman said.
Heideman eventually decided to get involved and contacted the municipality. She was told the “financial issues were basically sorted”, and work would resume shortly.
She phoned the contractor at the end of October and was told they would be back the following week, but they did not arrive.
At the beginning of this month, a man came to the house to clean up. “He said he will start putting in the floor, but couldn’t because the materials weren’t delivered,” Lukwe said. “I am stressed and it affects my work.”
In an e-mail sent on November 13 to various municipal officials, including the city manager, executive director of human settlements Simiselo Nogampula confirmed that contractors left the site at the end of September due to non-payment from the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (NMBM).
He said two contractors – Nutra Investments and Nomdis Construction – were appointed for the project. Payments for both contractors were certified on September 12 and 25 to the total of R1089524.72.
“We were informed by the NMBM that the full amount cannot be paid, as payment has to be made in terms of the original agreement as the addendum to the project agreement has not been finalised between the NMBM and the department of health services,” he wrote.
He added: “Contractors were put on notice for leaving the site and their response was that it was a payment issue as they could not pay suppliers and labour. Towards the end of last month, the contractors informed us that they were not paid the full amount.”
Nogampula said an agreement has been reached with the contractors to continue work while the matter is being addressed and they have been instructed to only complete the houses that are currently under rectification.

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