An oversight inspection by the Democratic Alliance to an RDP housing project near Port Shepstone has revealed a dire situation, with sandbanks behind some houses already having started to collapse, while homes on top of the banks also seem to be moving as a result of insecure foundations. (view here and here)
The Merlewood development, located within the Ray Nkonyeni Municipality, was visited by DA ward Councillor Ajith Rajaram and I during last weeks’ rain. This as a result of calls for help by residents. The visit also revealed that;
– Some residents have been reduced to build their own retaining walls to try to save their properties but that many of these have already collapsed (view here)
– An 89-year-old grandmother, whose house is also being threatened by a shifting sandbank, was stuck inside her home for two days. This after poor building meant that her door got stuck in the rain. She also has to climb a steep, muddy unpaved pathway to access the road from her home.
Regrettably, the situation at Merlewood is not unique and the DA remains concerned by the large number of KZN RDP houses that have experienced severe damage, both during last weeks’ storms and previous storms as a result of what seems to be poor planning, shoddy building work and the ignoring of basic engineering practices.
The DA firmly believes that government not only has a duty to provide housing to the people of our province but that this housing also needs to provide dignity and safety. The Merlewood housing project has clearly failed to meet these criteria, with residents lives and property now in danger. This is a direct result of the KZN Human Settlements Department failing to take reasonable steps to safeguard the area.
The DA has been in communication with KZN Human Settlement HOD, Mr Zungu asking for his urgent intervention. We expect both the HOD and MEC Peggy Nkonyeni to prioritise this matter and to visit Merlewood with our Councillor so that urgent steps can be taken to improve the lives of residents.