AN EASTERN Cape company has won a top African award for its super-fast house-building system and has just signed a deal with India. But its chief executive says despite exports to several developing countries, the provincial government has yet to recognise the value of this innovative system.

Moladi chief executive Hennie Botes said the company – based at Ruan Access Park in Greenbushes, Port Elizabeth – built six trial houses in Uitenhage and Despatch last year.

Botes said he was eventually paid, almost a year later, by the provincial Department of Housing (now the Department of Human Settlements), but a further contract for more developments never materialised.

Mnr. Hennie Botes, CEO of Moladi, said after he followed every possible route to the government where to get interest in his product set, finds him still in a dead end.

Attempts to get appointments with Mr. Tokyo Sexwale, Minister of Human Settlements, and Mr. Vusi Mavimbela, Director-General in the Presidency, was unsuccessful.

The government's lack of interest is a pity, especially in light of the fact that Sexwale recently announced that 40 000 poorly built RDP houses will be demolished at a cost of more than R1 billion.

In the meantime he has won the Data Bank building competition in Accra, Ghana. He said competing companies – two from South Africa (Moladi and Hydraform in Gauteng) and one from Australia (Panel Form) – had to showcase their ability and product and were judged on speed, quality, cost, social acceptability and creating employment.

Botes said they were launching Moladi nationally in January next year, including a new design for a free-standing three-bedroom, two-bathroom unit for between R2500 and R3000 per m².

“In Ghana we built a 54m² two-bedroom house and this was launched to government officials. There we had to de-skill the construction process and use as much local material as possible,” Botes said.

A team from his company spent two weeks in Accra to train workers there, said Botes.

Moladi won a contract to construct 100 units for the Ghanaian market funded by Data Bank. Botes has also exported the Moladi technology to developing countries like Panama, Mexico, Angola, Botswana, Brazil and Kenya.

Once the moulds, which are sold to contractors, are erected on the site, mortar – a mixture of sand, moladiCHEM (a non-toxic, water-based chemical cocktail) and water – is used to fill the wall cavities of the moulds. Once dry the moulds are removed, leaving behind a solid concrete structure.

With recent headlines of shoddy workmanship on low-cost houses in the province – several thousand in the Bay – and Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale calling for the houses to be demolished and rebuilt, Botes believes his product is an answer to the growing need for low-cost housing.

“The conventional builder can hardly cope with the growth of the housing market. When there is a natural disaster people don’t just want a house – they look for superior building,” Botes said.

He was invited in mid-September to present his product to the technical committee of the national Department of Human Settlements. “We have had no feedback yet.”

Botes said: “We want to supply all the products to build cost-effective houses. Included are the window and door frame and toilet fittings. Moladi is quite capable of building multi-storey houses.”

Regardless of his product not being recognised on the Eastern Cape housing scene he is forging ahead and is in the process of setting up a plant in Mumbai, India.

Indian-based property company Karle Group partner Sudarshan Karle was at Moladi this week to put in an order for the product. Karle said there was a demand for more than 100-million houses in India.

“In India we have 1,2 billion people and about 60% of them will never own a house. Nobody is offering a product for the lower middle-class families. For nearly two years we did market research on how to develop low-cost housing and eventually zeroed in on Moladi,” Karle said.

The first Moladi house was built in 1987. Next year Moladi will launch a concrete roof made of the same formwork.

“The need for low-cost affordable homes is a global demand,” Botes said.

A recent South African contract includes building a 40m² showhouse in Diepsloot, north of Johannesburg. The project will include 1000 houses to be built early next year. Other future plans include starting a Moladi College.

Moladi has received numerous other accolades, including the 2006 national Absa/NHBRC Innovation Competition Housing Innovation Award, the 1997 SABS Design for Development Award, 1991 PRW awards for excellence and this year’s Science and Technology man of the year Men’s Health award.

“Our vision is to become a global one-stop housing shop.” 

Train the unemployed to build for the homeless - moladi website - moladi

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