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Friday Aug 03, 2012

Shoddy builders cost State R90bn

Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale has warned that the net is closing in on "chancers" who work in cahoots with government officials to cash in on construction tenders.

He told a meeting of construction industry roleplayers in Pretoria that grave concerns had been raised about the shoddy workmanship of some contractors, and that allegations of rampant corruption were being investigated.

"The SIU (Special Investigating Unit) has that authority to bring to book those people. It doesn't help to keep on talking about those people, we have to bring them to book," he told reporters.

"I am very happy with the work being done by the SIU. Their reports indicate that just in this quarter, more than 2 000 people are in trouble. These are people in government, provincial or at local government level," he said.

Sexwale said he had convened yesterday's meeting to state the acceptable standards in the sector and get feedback.

"Today, I decided to bring the entire industry here. I cannot just be arresting people, making criminal charges and reclaiming monies from corrupt people in government. The industry has got to give us an assurance that they are committed to the good work that we said should be done on behalf of our people," he said.

To curb the ongoing malpractice, Sexwale said the government was seriously considering starting its own company to build the

Hhouses. He said rectification of the shoddy workmanship done by the private sector contractors had cost the government close to R50 billion. "We are determined to do something to rectify a situation which is causing us to rectify houses which should not have been broken in the first place. I'm saying to the industry, the question (of the state construction company) has been posed in Parliament, now let us sit down and look at the pros and cons," said Sexwale.

Emerging from the consultation with construction companies, Sexwale said he was told that the rot had been exacerbated because the government lacked the adequate regulation mechanisms.

"People are saying government also has to put its house in order. In particular, they are pointing fingers at the monitoring systems that we should have," the minister said.

"All our projects are supposed to be monitored by an organ of human settlements (the department), the National Home Builders' Regulatory Council.

"The people here are saying 'you need to clean up those people because many of them are not doing the monitoring'."

Last month, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela began a nationwide inquiry into the widespread problems around RDP houses.

Sexwale said her investigations would not solve the matter.

"The public protector will not rectify anything.

"The job of the public protector is to find information and bring it to us. There are all sort of things that people are raising. They raise them with us."

The Mercury

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