Property investor warns about Durban’s attitude

2013-11-26 00:00

A PROMINENT economist has warned that Durban could get a reputation as an investor-unfriendly city unless the municipality works with residents on a turnaround strategy.

Colen Garrow, an economist who lives in Johannesburg, but who owns offices in Musgrave, a block of flats in Glenwood, as well as other properties on the Esplanade and at Shaka’s Rock, was speaking ahead of tonight’s Save Our Berea meeting in Musgrave.

The Save the Berea Campaign is gaining momentum as concerned residents and property owners in the area prepare to air their grievances.

Residents’ complaints range from issues involving the flouting of city by-laws regarding building construction to social problems impacting on the area, including loitering vagrants, prostitution and drug dealing.

“I’m not an activist,” says Garrow, “I’m a concerned property owner.” Garrow’s first concern is crime. “Compared with Johannesburg where I live, Durban is getting more than its fair share of crime at the moment.

“Secondly, there is a general apathy among politicians, and I’m not singling out any party. Especially with politicians involved with the Berea. They are not approachable in the same way as they are in Johannesburg where complaints are addressed. In Durban there is a feeling it will somehow just go away. In Johannesburg there is a general drive to get things done, I’m not finding that in Durban, it does not have that drive. Durban is becoming an investor-unfriendly city.”

Garrow says the municipality needs to address the concerns of ratepayers and property owners. “By-laws are put in place to protect ratepayers and property owners. If the current officials can’t enforce them they must step aside for those who can.”

Cheryl Johnson, campaign committee member, said they are looking for a clear mandate from the meeting to carry on with the next step.

She envisages this will see the creation of a body with a mandate to represent the concerns of residents and engage with the municipality.

Johnson, who owns property in Musgrave, is the originator of the campaign. “I got cross,” she says. “I had had enough and when I expressed this view to people I found they had had enough too. And it grew organically from there.”

The campaign then set up a Facebook page to see if others shared these views. The answer was yes. “At one stage we had 14 000 visitors.”

Johnson owns two Edwardian houses and has lived in one of them for 30 years. “I don’t mind living in a busy semi-commercial area, people in London do so quite happily. But I do object to bad behaviour. I don’t want people defecating on my front verandah or peeing on my tree.”

Tonight’s meeting starts at 6.30 pm for 7 pm at the St Thomas Church Hall in Musgrave Road, Musgrave.

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