‘Fix up’ building

2018-06-12 06:01
Dumping and sewerage at the Keizersgracht building.PHOTO: Nicole McCain

Dumping and sewerage at the Keizersgracht building.PHOTO: Nicole McCain

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Piles of litter and a stream of sewerage are the first sights, and smell, at a derelict building in the CBD.

Inside the building at 2 Keizersgracht, dark and damp rooms are filled with buckets, slowly collecting dripping water, and the surfaces covered in blue plastic bags.

This is home to 18 families, many of whom have lived there for decades.

The building, owned by the national Department of Public Works, has been declared as a problem building by the City of Cape Town.

In 2016, there were an estimated 60 problem buildings in the subcouncil 16 area in various stages of investigation.

Thirty-six of those cases were located in the CBD and surrounds.

This was discussed at a Good Hope Subcouncil meeting, during a presentation by the City’s problem buildings unit, at the time (“Almost 60 buildings here ‘a problem’”, People’s Post, 22 March 2016.)

The unit works on derelict and vandalised buildings across the city.

At the time of going to print, the problem buildings unit had not yet commented.

Ward councillor Dave Bryant and City officials visited the site on Wednesday, to assess the living conditions.

“The City has no say in who lives here. We can’t evict people on privately-owned property,” Bryant explained during the site visit.

“We’re not here to evict anyone. The national department of public works must deal with the environmental health issues and fix [the building] up.”

Kaylin Martin was born in the building and has lived there for all her 21 years.

She confirms that the 18 families living in the building have no water or electricity and share only one, broken toilet. They rely on public ablution facilities across the road, from which they fetching water, she says.

The fire in November caused the building to deteriorate sharply, Martin explains, and left residents traumatised.

“I lost my baby due to the smoke,” she says.

“Now people even steal the locks from the doors. Since the fire, these funny things started happening.”

Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson Theo Layne confirmed that the department attended to a building in Darling Street that was alight on Wednesday 8 November last year.

“Three fire engines and a water tanker extinguished the fire at the three-storey building. No injuries were reported at the time,”he says.

Department of Public Works spokesperson Thami Mchunu says: “The Department of Public Works is well aware that the property, erf 110473 in Cape Town, has been listed as a problem building. With that being said, there are no planned repairs to reinstate the structure and no plans have been established yet to repair the building.”


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