JG Afrika recently handed over six new quality houses to families who had been relocated to accommodate the extensive upgrade to the R61 from All Saints to Baziya in the Eastern Cape.
Our highway technicians Mike Potter and Bheki Mkhwanazi have every reason to be proud. They have played a stellar role in liaising with affected families, locating and negotiating available land with tribal leaders, as well as designing and supervising the construction of the houses.
The team found it immensely satisfying to see the look of appreciation on the faces of the proud new homeowners, who had formerly been living in single-room mud structures within the road reserve.
“One elderly gentleman passed away shortly after receiving his new house from the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL). He told me that he never believed that he would ever own a decent home in his lifetime. He left it to his family, who also live in poverty in makeshift structures in the area,” Potter says.
Another source of pride for Potter is the workmanship of the emerging contractors who were appointed to build the houses.
Potter says that a decision was taken right from the outset to treat these companies in the same manner as a principal contractor on a typical construction site to ensure that they gained as much experience as possible from working on this project.
They were supported throughout by the principal contractor on the R61 upgrade, Aveng Grinaker-LTA.
“One of the biggest challenges facing small, medium and micro builders is cash flow. We therefore decided to implement a different payment model to assist them in completing the houses on time and quality. They were paid in three phases: upon completion of the floor level, roof structure and the various works thereafter,” Potter says.
The block infill structures with zinc-sheet roofing were completed within two months.
They are 72 m2 in size and have two or three rooms, including a kitchen, lounge area and bedroom.
Diesel generators were also installed at those houses that are located in areas that do not have access to grid electricity.
“Our credo was to build houses in which we ourselves would be willing to live. We therefore only appointed contractors that were registered with the National Home Builders Registration Council and tenders were awarded on a competitive basis,” he says.
People were mainly relocated from one side of the road to the other. There was at least one instance where a family had to be moved from Baziya to Mthatha.
Land was accessed in the shortest time possible, even though in some instances extensive negotiations with traditional leaders were required.
The relocation of ancestral graves will be completed early in 2019, by which time all of the affected families will have settled into their new houses.
Potter says that he is proud of his involvement in one of the ongoing upgrades to the R61 which promise to unlock the economic potential of the Eastern Cape, a notoriously poor area of the country.
JG Afrika was appointed by SANRAL to provide engineering and design services for the upgrading of a 36-km section of the R61, and to provide construction supervision services for the first phase of the project.