Residents of Botshabel hope that a bill to protect the rights of consumers of housing will help prevent the construction of houses in the metropolitan municipality of Mangaung on unsuitable land prone to waterlogging. Residents appealed to the Portfolio Settlements Committee at the first of three public hearings on the bill in Botshabela, Free State.
Residents complained that this practice led to the rapid demolition of structures and to the fact that people left their homes as a result of diseases caused by continuous waterlogging. Unanimously supporting the bill, participants stressed their confidence that the bill will protect the rights of beneficiaries and ultimately lead to the construction of quality RRP homes.
A large number of participants also expressed different views on the composition of the Council, which is provided for in section 6 of the bill. One view was that the board should be composed of qualified people with knowledge and experience primarily in the construction environment to ensure that it fulfills its mandate. There was a different opinion that the board should also include representatives of the traditional sphere of leadership, as this will have an impact on both rural and urban settlements.
The participants further stressed the importance of accreditation for builders and developers, as they believed that it would help improve the quality of houses under construction. Participants also expressed concern about the level of inspections in the construction of RDP housing, with many suggesting that inspections were limited. Therefore, they proposed in the bill to strengthen the role of inspectors to ensure compliance with building codes.
Residents also believed that the bill should clearly highlight the role of the Ministry of Labor to ensure that contractors do not subcontract to unregistered builders and undocumented migrants. In cases where labor inspectors find unregistered builders and migrants at undocumented sites, contractors are subject to fines.
Although the bill has received much support, small and medium-sized businesses feared that the bill would add regulatory burden to their business, negatively affecting their ability to do business. In addition, there have been numerous complaints that the NHBRC is inaccessible to rural residents, making it difficult to enforce the bill.
Public hearings will continue in Bethlehem. All stakeholders and organizations are encouraged to come and share their views with the committee to ensure that the final product reflects their will and aspirations. The Committee is aware that these hearings are taking place as the country continues to face the risks of Covid-19 and the increasing number of infections. As a result, the committee will enforce Covid-19 rules to ensure the safety of all participants.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of South Africa: Parliament.
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