Human settlements 'evaluating' R840m white elephant Eskom flats

Ernest Mabuza Journalist
The abandoned Kusile housing project, which has cost Eskom R840m. The department of human settlements says it is currently undertaking a process of evaluation of the property.
The abandoned Kusile housing project, which has cost Eskom R840m. The department of human settlements says it is currently undertaking a process of evaluation of the property.
Image: Thulani Mbele

The national department of human settlements confirmed on Friday that Eskom had approached it with a list of properties for possible purchase — including the controversial Wilge flats near the Kusile power station in Mpumalanga.

The flats were built — at enormous cost — to house technicians working at the power station but were never completed.

Eskom budgeted R160m for the project in 2012, but parliament heard on Wednesday that R840m was spent, the project remains incomplete and the units were uninhabitable.

Eskom said on Thursday the flats were now the subject of a disposal process in which negotiations with a potential buyer, the human settlements department, were at an advanced stage.

The rationale for building them was to house construction expatriate workers who would be needed to work at the Kusile power station project.

Eskom decided to stop funding the project in 2018 and all construction work ceased.

“Eskom is in the process of disposing of the property, in line with government processes of public property disposals.

“This was always the intended course of action once construction at the Kusile power station was complete, as Eskom would therefore have no need for the property,” said spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha.

Human settlements, water and sanitation ministry spokesperson McIntosh Polela said the department was doing an evaluation of the property.

“A decision will be taken on completion of the evaluation, as well as several other processes.” he said.

“For now, we would like to place it on record that the national department of human settlements and Mpumalanga provincial department of human settlements together with our entities have not taken a decision on the Wilge flats.”

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