Municipality not to blame

2014-02-28 00:00

THIS time Msunduzi is not to blame for the power outage that affected most of Montrose earlier this week.

It turns out a contractor working in the area uprooting trees for an office park development at 73 McCarthy Drive, struck one of council’s large underground electricity cables.

There is also concern among residents in the area that the development is encroaching onto the neighbouring wetland.

Ward councillor Dave Ryder had to field phone calls from irate residents who were furious at the municipality. However, he soon discovered that the fault lay with the contractor working on the site. He said their front-end loaders were busy on the site digging up trees and removing tree stumps, when the cable was cut.

Ryder said a similar incident happened two years ago on the same plot when extensions were being done to the Cascades complex. He said if this happened two years ago, then the whereabouts of the cables should have been known by those working on the site.

Ryder said people phoned him asking with whom they should lodge complaints about damaged equipment and food. Ryder felt this was the contractor’s responsibility.

Msunduzi spokesperson Brian Zuma confirmed that the municipality was not at fault for the outage that had plunged Montrose, the Virgin Active gym and the Cascades shopping centre into darkness. He said insurance claims for damages would have to hold the contractors on the site liable.

Zuma said the contractors were aware of council’s servitudes on the site.

“A request had been made by the contractors for permission to clear the site. Permission was granted and our services were marked on a drawing to show approximate position or route for the office block development,” he said.

According to Zuma, the council’s insurance brokers will be lodging a claim for the damaged cable. Similarly, payment will be claimed for the repairs undertaken.

On allegations about encroachment into the wetlands, Zuma said that council’s environmental division was monitoring the situation and so far there had been no transgressions. This was also confirmed by KZN Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs. Spokesperson Jeffrey Zikhali said permission to develop the office park was granted on the condition that the developer had to implement a wetland rehabilitation plan. He said staff from his department are monitoring the situation closely. The wetland was still clearly pegged off. “It must be noted that there will be work undertaken within the wetland itself as part of the rehabilitation process,” Zikhali said.

He added that should the public have any concerns with regard to the development they should report this to the environmental control officer via a register that can be accessed at the site office.

The developer of the office block, Rob Alexander, was contacted by phone and SMS but did not respond by the time of going to press. It is believed he is overseas.

The contractor’s representative Sandy Davidson, who had provided his number to The Witness photographer for the journalist to contact him, did not respond to calls or SMSes by the time of going to press.

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