Trollip takes tough stance on problem buildings

2018-02-21 06:00
< Executive Mayor Athol Trollip and Human Settlements MMC Councillor Nqaba Bhanga visited 13 Western Road in Central last Monday.

< Executive Mayor Athol Trollip and Human Settlements MMC Councillor Nqaba Bhanga visited 13 Western Road in Central last Monday.

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NELSON Mandela Bay Executive Mayor Athol Trollip has declared that all buildings in Port Elizabeth’s inner city will undergo an urgent assessment and any structure found to be non-compliant in terms of national legislation or municipal by-laws will be shut down.

On February 12, Trollip and Human Settlements MMC Councillor Nqaba Bhanga visited 13 Western Road in Central, where a raid by the metro police and South African Police Service (SAPS) was carried out recently.

“The utterly vile condition of the now empty building’s interior is simply unconscionable; a horror to think that it had previously been illegally occupied by over 100 people prior to the eviction,” Trollip said.

“What concerns me is that we must have had officials who have sanctioned the fact that people have been living here and we can’t tolerate that anymore. We can’t allow buildings like this to exist in our city where people are living in completely unhygienic and unsafe conditions.”

He added that inner-city decay begins with one or two buildings like 13 Western Road, which triggers the decentralisation of businesses and industries.

“What is left is surging criminality, drug abuse, prostitution and the proliferation of unimaginable social depravity.

“It is time to take back our metro’s CBD (Central Business District). This coalition government will not allow irresponsible landlords to turn our inner city into a slum.”

Trollip said a “problem buildings” by-law is due to be promulgated by council in the very near future, which will only strengthen the administration’s capacity to deal with non-compliant and derelict buildings.

However, Bhanga explained that rather than wait for such a by-law to be promulgated, they would use exiting laws, such as the Health and Safety Act, to get rid of the buildings.

“There was a fire here (13 Western Road) in 2016. We, as a political party came here and gave blankets to the people who were left homeless. Absolutely nothing has been done to this building since that fire took place, but people continue to live here,” Trollip continued.

“The owner of the building has allowed this building to decay to such an extent that it is completely unsafe and, as Bhanga said, we are going to use existing legislation before the enactment of a problem building by-law to make sure that people can’t live in buildings like this.”

The mayor added that they will hold the owners of the buildings accountable and, if they refuse to take responsibility, the municipality will expropriate the building.

A joint team of the Office of the COO, Safety and Security, Human Settlements and the Office of the Executive Mayor met on February 13 to plan future intervention operations.

“A legal team will be on standby to process and expedite all urgent court matters, which we are confident will result in court orders and shutdowns. We will work with the SAPS and the Office of the Sheriff of the Court to ensure the rejuvenation of our inner city.

“We have decided that enough is enough – we are determined to create a safe city, rich with opportunity for all,” Trollip concluded.

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