Concern over uncompleted Bay housing projects

THE provincial portfolio committee on housing and the committee on public accounts have expressed concern about the poor working relationship between the provincial housing department and the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality.
Speaking yesterday after a tour of blocked projects in Nelson Mandela Bay, housing portfolio committee chairman Dennis Neer said the two were “not speaking the same language” and this was adversely affecting housing delivery.
“We are concerned. The municipality is telling us a different story from what the provincial housing department is saying. For instance, the housing department told the committee there were about seven blocked projects in Nelson Mandela Bay, but when we came to the municipality, we were told there were only two.
“This is a cause of great concern. If the housing department is allocating money for seven blocked projects to be unblocked and the municipality is saying there are only two, where is the other funding going to? This is serious. We will call on the housing department to explain,” said Neer.
Blocked projects are those which are not completed because either there is no funding, or the contractor did not complete the work, or if he did, the workmanship is poor and the project is stopped.
Neer said a check was being carried out on how much money the municipality had received from the housing department, and how much had been spent.
“We are also looking at the challenges facing these projects, what programme should be put in place to unblock them, and also verifying if they are provincial or municipal projects.”
He also said the committees were looking at what happened to the money not spent at the end of a financial year – where it was kept, what interest accrued and what happened to it. The municipality was left with a questionnaire to complete. This will be presented in the legislature by the committee.
Neer described the situation as “confusing”, as the housing department and the municipality did not agree on many issues.
“We have told the municipality that from now on this unhealthy working relationship must stop. How do we talk of co-operative governance when spheres of government are not co-ordinating?”
He said the committee would take the municipality‘s questionnaire to the housing department and compare it with what they had to say.
The committee is visiting all municipalities in the province.
The working relationship between the municipality and the housing department has always been strained. This is evidenced by the move by the municipality to be accredited as a fully fledged housing developer, thereby cutting out the housing department in the delivery process.

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