Government forges ahead with delivery of controversial tin shack houses despite public outcry and disruptions

Some of the 40 shacks unveiled by Limpopo premier Stan Mathabatha at Talana Hostel in Tzaneen.
Some of the 40 shacks unveiled by Limpopo premier Stan Mathabatha at Talana Hostel in Tzaneen.

The agency of the department of human settlement tasked with driving the rollout of the controversial tin shack houses to vulnerable communities across the country, says the project is forging ahead despite public outcry and disruptions in some areas.

The Housing Development Agency (HDA) which issued tenders for the construction of temporary transitional residential units (TRUs) from Talana in Tzaneen in Limpopo to Duncan Village in East London, in the Eastern Cape, says it's on course complete the shelters to communities in need.

In the latest row, some Mamelodi residents have taken issue with the rollout of the project in the area accusing government of wasting money by spending R64 000 per unit in the construction of the tin shacks.

The tin shacks were built to ease congestion of the overcrowded at Mamelodi hostel. They formed part of interventions meant to ensure communities had enough space to practice social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. In May, Human Settlements minister Lindiwe Sisulu visited the hostel to inspect the temporary residential unit structures.

However residents have since disrupted the project vowing to prevent people from being moved into the units. But HDA has claimed that some of the people behind the disruption of the project at Mamelodi hostel were not even from the area. The agency has alleged that some of the people were trying to negotiate for subcontracting tender and when they failed they resorted to disruption.

One opponent of the project in Mamelodi,  Apson Makaung has been accused of trying to stop it because he did not get a share of its money and that he did not live in the area. 

Makaung told Sowetan that people are complaining that they don't want shacks but they wanted RDP houses. "The government is wasting money on building the residents of the hostel  shacks that cost R64 000 and the contractor must build 1000 shacks and currently the contractor has not built even 150 shacks," Makaung said.

"I stay in Mamelodi and have family here and my kids were born in Mamelodi. I won't disrupt service delivery but the government must build proper quality houses for the people. Building shacks is an insult to our people." Makaung said project leaders were trying to "character assassinate" him for standing firm for his community.

HDA spokesperson Katlego Moselakgomo said the agency issued out a tender for construction of emergency housing and invited more than 234 companies from its panel of constructors to bid for TRUs.

"Several options, including stackable containers – which would have been quicker to provide – were considered. However, the cost for these options was too high, ranging between R89,000 and R233,000 and more," he said.

"We had to find a solution that met the Housing Code specifications for an alternative building technology. We found TRUs that met the housing code specifications and the stipulated subsidy. These units are being supplied at the stipulated subsidy of R64,000 per unit. Other costs that must be factored in include labour, transportation, assembly, security, certification etc."

Moselakgomo said the completion of the Mamelodi project has been delayed due to shortage of materials. 

"In the absence of any foreseeable disruptions, the project should be completed by end of September and eligible beneficiaries will be relocated soon thereafter," he added.

The outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic has affected trade, movement of goods and people globally... steel is one of the major material inputs in the construction of TRU’s. Steel supply has been constrained due to lock down and this had a negative impact on meeting the demand and supply related to TRU’s. However, the TRU projects are now in progress and will be completed within the budget and within the reasonable timelines."