Parliament, Saturday, 10 September 2022 – The residents of Nkangala District Municipality have called on the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements to ensure that the Housing Consumer Protection Bill protects residents in mining towns against mining methods that damage their properties.

The committee started its three-day public hearings on the Housing Consumer Protection Bill in Mpumalanga yesterday in Emalahleni where the Bill was supported by an overwhelming majority of participants.

A serious concern was raised by participants that blasting in mines in the area negatively affect their houses. They called for the Bill to directly address this challenge through a clause that states a reasonable distance between mines and residential areas for the purposes of protecting residential areas from mining methods that damage houses by, among other things, causing cracks.

Also highlighted by participants was the persistent challenge of poor implementation of progressive legislation which was underlined as a risk factor that has a potential to undermine the intended goals of the Bill. As a remedy to this problem, participants called for tighter enforcement and monitoring of the implementation of the Bill to ensure that its intended objectives are achieved.

Furthermore, the participants called for the visibility of the building inspectors on the ground and their mandate in theNational Home Builders Registration Council must be strengthened in the Bill. Participants also pointed out that the lack of building inspectors in rural areas was a major cause of poor and declining building standards.

The prohibition of substandard building materials especially in the rural areas was raised as an area which needs strong regulation within the Bill. Participants also reiterated that the Bill must specify stronger standards for durable building materials to ensure stronger and quality houses.

Similar to sentiments expressed in other provinces the committee has visited, the quality of RDP houses remains a serious concern to a majority of beneficiaries. There remains a concern that unscrupulous constructors continue to deliver substandard houses. Also, some participants told the committee that their houses were built under the flood line and in wetlands that cause serious cracks to their houses.

Beneficiaries of the RDP houses expressed hope that the Housing Consumer Protection Bill will protect beneficiaries against contractors that develop substandard RDP houses. There was a suggestion that building contractors should not be paid the whole money at the same time, there must be an amount of money that should be withheld and be paid later when there is certainty that the house is strong. According toresidents, that would be a reliable measure to end the problem of unscrupulous building contractors.

The transformative feature of the Bill which will guarantee training and registration of home builders was hailed as an enabler and tool to change the construction industry. Also, the home warranty fund was underlined by residents as a protective mechanism that has a potential to protect consumers. Manyparticipants called for capacitation through information sessionsto ensure that these benefits are accessed by everyone including by those in the rural areas.

The committee welcomed the comments on the Bill it received from the participants and is of the view that they will improve the Bill. “These hearings are in line with Section 59 (1) of the Constitution which calls for the public involvement in the legislative making process of the Assembly. We are confident that the quality of inputs made by the proposed primarybeneficiaries of the protective features of the Bill have contributed significantly in improving the Bill,” said Ms Machwene Semenya, the Chairperson of the Committee.

The committee will today continue with the public hearings on the Bill in Ermelo. The committee invites all individuals and interested organisations to come and make inputs on the Bill, to ensure that the final product is reflective of their will and aspirations.

Details of the Hearings (Day 2)
Date: Saturday, 10 September 2022
Time: 10:00
Venue: Cassim Park Hall, 123 Littledale street, Ermelo


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