Johannesburg - New building construction, renovations and, in some cases, property transfers have been on hold for the past five months because the printing machine in the City of Joburg’s building control department is broken.
Exacerbating the problem is that the person who approves plans is not available because she is a witness in a fraud case involving staff members of her department and is always in court.
Councillor David Potter said he was receiving constant complaints from developers and estate agents about not being able to get hard copies of building plans needed to start construction, and not being able to get plans approved.
“This is the department where plans are approved, and where copies of approved plans are supposed to be available, yet people have been unable to get them as staff claim that the printer on their floor is not in working order and hasn’t been for five months.
“This has a domino effect on the property industry as transfers cannot proceed if one of the conditions is that a copy of the house plans are required.
“Also, new plans/renovations cannot proceed as it is a new condition that a copy of the original approved plans is required. How pathetic can the council be not to have a photocopier repaired, especially as they charge to make copies of plans and are paying salaries for staff to sit on their backsides?” said Potter.
One estate agent, who would not be named for fear of victimisation the next time she went in, said her agency was experiencing huge backlogs with property transactions because of this.
“It is costing people money with these delays for which there is no logical explanation, especially those wanting to start renovations, alterations and additions to their properties during winter when there are no rains.
“How can a simple machine breaking down affect so many people?” she asked.
Joburg spokesman Nthatisi Modingoane said it should be emphasised that the printer was no ordinary photocopier, but rather a machine that converted microfiche images into hard copies. This machine is nearing the end of its useful life and the city is in the process of procuring a new one.
“Admittedly, given the age of the machine, we have had frequent breakdowns and, in all instances, technicians are called out for repairs,” he said, adding that it was not true that the machine had not been functional for five months.
Modingoane said interventions were put in place to manage volumes when the staff member concerned was testifying in court.