DA KZN:  Half-baked flat refurbishments leave residents let down again

George Mari, MPL

DA KZN Alternate Spokesperson on Human Settlements

AN oversight visit by the DA to flats in the Phoenix area has revealed that residents are being let down yet again by eThekwini municipality which, despite promising to fix a botched earlier refurbishment exercise, appears to have little or no intention of doing so.

The result is that residents are living in unsafe and unhygienic conditions.

The affected residents live in flats in complexes including Crownvale, Courtvale, Westside, Drinford and Furrowpalm.

A recent site visit made it quite clear that these “refurbishments” have been severely downgraded.  They are haphazard, poorly thought out and nowhere near the original scoping exercise with many short cuts being taken.

During the visit I noted the following;

–          Serious structural cracks filled in with Polyfilla and then painted over instead of being properly fixed or the building being underpinned – I witnessed this.

–          Cracks are only filled on the outside leaving serious cracks inside the flats

–          Water seepage is rife and is a severe health hazard, especially to children.  It is seeping through from upstairs and affecting the bathroom in one unit which is on the lower floor

According to community members, their complaints about structural damage, damp and   water seepage are ignored with contractors saying “we only do what we are paid to do”.

The scope of work is also questionable. There has been very little consultation with residents who suddenly see scaffolding being erected and painting started.

I also noted the contractor at Crownvale Flats was off site.  Apparently he has abandoned the project.  Given the serious cracks in this particular complex, it should be demolished and completely rebuilt.  Yet people continue to live there in such unsafe conditions.

To deploy an independent assessor to investigate would be difficult at this stage as paint has already hidden many of the defects.

When one compares these upgrades to those done at Shallcross Flats, these are far inferior.

This entire debacle is the result of using contractors based on their political connections rather than building expertise.  There are many such cadres who are involved as sub-contractors and CLO’s who have little or no experience to perform the work.

The standard of work at these flats is also another example of what happens when there is no real supervision.

I written to KZN Human Settlements MEC, Ravi Pillay to advise him of the situation.  I have also sent him photo’s of this abomination.

I have called on him to;

–           Order a proper scoping report to look at the flats in entirety, especially inside where there is serious water seepage and damp

–           Launch an investigation into this so-called refurbishment project

–           Ensure that the contractors are evaluated for their experience and ability to do the job

–           Ensure that ANC cadres are removed – especially in Ward 49 where the DA?? Councillor has been excluded. He has to now deal with the complaints from the residents?

–           Ensure that Ward Committees be part of the process

–           Ensure that community members are employed rather than outsiders

–           Ensure that proper process is followed on this project

I have not yet completed my oversight when it comes to these flats.  I will continue to make visits and forward any further evidence of shoddy workmanship to the MEC.

It is unacceptable that anyone should have to live under such conditions.