Ray Nkonyeni Municipality has received and noted the concerns regarding the Merlewood Housing Project raised by residents in last week’s South Coast Herald dated 22 March 2019. 

First and foremost it is important to clarify that the municipality acts as an agent in the Human Settlement matters as this is the competency of the Provincial and National Government through the Department of Human Settlement.

It should also be noted that when the housing beneficiaries are handed over the keys for the house the municipality conducts a Consumer Education process which seeks to educate them about their roles and responsibilities in handling their houses. As part of this Consumer Education the beneficiaries are also taught about channels of reporting defects which they may encounter in their houses. Ray Nkonyeni Municipality will also ensure that the rights of the consumers are adhered to as it is also an agent registered under the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) which protects the housing consumers in terms of the quality products.
 
In this specific case of Merlewood, the municipality would like to highlight that this area has been previously disadvantaged and has been affected by historical matters of pre-1994, hence there are so many challenges. The municipality seeks to address those imbalances and challenges so that the residents of Merlewood can be in par with the rest of the community of Ray Nkonyeni. So in light of all these predicaments, the municipality is working around the clock to close that chapter first. 

Roof Ceiling and Electricity 

The municipality would like to indicate that this project was approved under the old specifications which did not cover roof ceiling and electricity. The municipality however notes the concerns and is addressing the issue with the Department of Energy such that already 74 out of 137 houses have already been connected and have lights.  

Floods, Roads and Storm Water

It is worth noting that the norm for Human Settlement is Gravel Road and open channel for Storm Water. The municipality is currently sourcing funds to put Black Top and Concrete Channel Storm Water. Furthermore the municipality is also sourcing additional funds for retaining walls to protect the Steel banks. 

Quality on houses: Sink/Water Basins Fall off and Air Ventilation

In relation to quality on houses, the municipality appoints service providers who are obliged in terms of National Building Regulations and Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) regulations to adhere and ensure quality systems are in place. 

In addition, the NHBRC acts as a quality assurer as well and as an Independent Insurance. NHBRC ensures workmanship within 90 days of handover of a house at no cost to beneficiaries. They also look at the issue that no house shall have roof leakages within 12 months after the handover and the structural integrity in the first 5 years. 

Also as part of quality assurance, the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Department of Human Settlement inspectors ensure that there is value for money when houses are built. The municipal Technical Officers are also obliged to give assurance that the houses are built according to the specifications.

Municipality concern

It is worth noting that there is a disturbing trend where the beneficiaries of Merlewood are renting out the houses after the handover whilst portraying that they are the destitute community. Other beneficiaries are illegally selling these houses though they have not been granted the Title Deeds.

This matter has been taken to the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Department of Human Settlement. Lastly the municipality is planning to commence with phase 5 of the housing development for the Middle Income earners.