21052010: Deputy Minister of Human Settlements Mrs Zou Kota-Fredericks  at the ABSA Awards;

21052010: Deputy Minister of Human Settlements Mrs Zou Kota-Fredericks at the ABSA Awards; PHOTO:BONGANI MNGUNI

A LOCAL company pipped international construction giants in a competition to deliver innovative solutions to affordable quality housing.

Imison, a local construction company, won three awards - innovative affordable housing; energy efficient low-cost housing; and energy efficient affordable housing.

Imison received R280000 in prize money at the International Innovative Housing and Sustainable Energy Efficiency Competition Awards.

The quality innovation competition was a public-private-partnership initiative involving the department, Absa Bank, National Housing Finance Corporation and the National Home Builders Registration Council.

The awards were hosted by Absa on Thursday.

Providing quality low-cost and affordable housing is a major challenge in the country. The government has admitted to a backlog of two million RDP housing units.

At the same time Minister of Human Settlements Tokyo Sexwale has announced a R2billion budget to fix badly constructed RDP houses.

Deputy Human Settlements Minister Zou Kota-Fredericks told guests that the government had lost patience with companies that short-changed people on quality and undermined their dignity.

Companies were assessed on building materials showing durability, architectural quality, energy efficiency, cost-effectiveness, social acceptance and bankability.

About 18 companies, some from Kuwait, Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Namibia took part.

Brick and mortar were excluded.

Kota-Fredericks said the innovations were a step in the right direction.

"Primary shelter cannot be the responsibility of government. We want to build houses and ensure that there are schools, roads and clinics next to them. This will go a long way in boosting our people's dignity."

Imison director Mqondisi Gumede, was ecstatic.

"It validates the fact that there is acceptance of alternative technology in the country," Gumede said.

Imison has built 1 400 houses since 2008. It uses styropor and neopor, a material used in fridge doors, to build walls of the houses.