Building owners need to work with the City to deal with unsafe, bad buildings, including those that have been bricked up.
THE authorities are coming down hard on owners of dilapidated and dangerous buildings in the inner city in the wake of collapsed buildings and unexpected fires recently, and a task team of urban management, emergency management services and building control officials has set out to document those that are structurally flawed.
Region F director Nathi MthethwaRegion F director Nathi MthethwaRecently, a fire broke out at Caledonian Hall, a derelict building on the corner of Jeppe and End streets, which was being stripped for scrap metal when it caved in on three people.
Most of these buildings, like Caledonian Hall, are privately owned. In response, the City is engaging with the owners. However, it also urges owners of bad buildings to come forward.
There are many old buildings in the CBD that need maintenance. Early this week, for example, there was a fire at The Star building on Sauer Street, caused by an electric fault. Although the building is not damaged or dilapidated, it is old and such incidents do occur.
People are also encouraged to give information that can help track down the owners of dilapidated buildings. The appeal is being extended to ward councillors in the city centre and surrounding areas who can assist in identifying the buildings and their owners.
“We are open to engaging with building owners in the inner city and encourage them to contact us,” said the regional director, Nathi Mthethwa. “We will be tracing the owners of buildings that are in a dangerous state.”
The inner city is in Region F. There are three classes of buildings, each requiring a different approach. “We will target the partially built or partially destroyed structures which are being stripped by scrap miners and inhabited by vagrants,” he said.
The second category is those that have been bricked- or walled-up but are also being vandalised for scrap metal. “These are empty buildings of all varieties … that are being targeted for metal,” Mthethwa said.
The third category of building is those that are occupied, but which are unsafe because of overcrowding, poor sanitation and poor infrastructure, and are generally unsafe for habitation.
Lorna Court, one of the abandoned buildings in the CBDLorna Court, one example of an abandoned buildings in the CBD“They may be zoned as offices, factories, warehouses and basements; however, they are considered highly dangerous due to overcrowding where the residents are vulnerable to fire and there are no safety measures or escape routes for people.”
“The City’s intention is to eradicate bad buildings, so if the property owner comes forward with a plan to renovate the building so that it complies with all the by-laws, the City will accommodate such a property owner,” Mthethwa confirmed.
Ultimately, it will re-inspect and compile a database of bad buildings based on its findings. This is expected to take two weeks. Peripheral areas of the region, where bad buildings have been identified, will be included, such as Malvern, Jeppe, Bertrams, Turffontein and Booysens.
“We will focus on tracking the owners and in educating the residents about unsafe buildings, and building an awareness of this problem among people living in unsafe conditions in the inner city.”
In its next phase, the team will take action against bad buildings through the courts, with the aim of demolishing unsafe structures. The public is being asked to make use of the City’s anonymous hotline to report bad buildings on 011 838 0428 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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