New performance standards for housing contractors

Pretoria - The Gauteng Department of Human Settlements has introduced a new set of performance standards for contractors in a bid to manage under-performance in the industry.

Gauteng Human Settlements MEC Jacob Mamabolo said that the growing demand in Gauteng for housing and the need to respond to the demand through Mega Human Settlements Projects, will require a drastic improvement in performance by all housing contractors.

He said the move forms part of the turnaround strategy of the department aimed at improving performance and capacity to be able to deliver Mega Projects.

Speaking during a meeting with all housing employed contractors at Emperor’s Palace, in Ekurhuleni, MEC Mamabolo said he was concerned that the department has been on a downward trend in delivering houses in the past five years.

He said money spent on building houses increased over the years, while the number of housing opportunities delivered declined.

“We must change the tide. My plea is that we cannot continue like this. By the end of financial year we must see an upward trend in the numbers and we must close the gap between expenditure and output,” MEC Mamabolo said.

The MEC said that performance will now be monitored through a revised Service Level Agreements (SLA), which all contractors in the province are expected to sign.

“The SLA’s will commit contractors to deliver on targets set and agreed by all parties. The SLA’s will not interfere with existing contracts. However, punitive steps will be taken against non-performing contractors, which will include termination of contracts,” he explained.

Some of the urgent administrative interventions to assist in fast-tracking housing delivery include bringing on board the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) to assist with inspections and approvals processes.

He also indicated that performance standards have been revised for government officials (Construction Project Managers) and warned that action will be taken against those responsible for poor performance.

“The department is taking action against corruption. One form of corruption relates to the corrupt relationships employees have with some contractors. Another form of corruption relates to the awarding of houses to the incorrect beneficiaries, which included a number of people like councillors.”

He said an investigation by the department showed that some of the relationships between officials and contractors were so toxic that they affected the quality of houses and the cost of building. However, the scale of the problem is manageable and the department was already winning.

Meanwhile, during the first quarter, the department recorded an improvement of 41% compared to the previous year. The department has also achieved an unqualified audit outcome.

The contractors also raised their concerns and frustrations with regards to the department, amongst them the lack of technical support, legal and contractual issues, delays in quality assurance and approvals.

MEC Mamabolo committed to resolving the issues and creating an ongoing platform to meet with contractors on an ongoing basis.