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Workers at home, ratepayers high and dry

Kwazulu Natal
Durban - The closing down of the building at 75 Dr Langalibalele Dube Street and the failure by eThekwini Municipality to communicate this has left ratepayers and businessmen fuming.

On Monday, a number of ratepayers and business people accused city officials of being “ignorant” and showing little care for the people they were supposed to serve.

The building was condemned by the Labour Department on Friday.

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Property owner and businessman Shan Mackraj reads notices put up by the Department of Labour warning that employees were prohibited from accessing the 75 Dr Langalibalele Dube Street building. Mackraj was there to submit an objection to his property valuation.

On Monday more than 600 employees in the Real Estate, Business Support, Safer City, Parks and Recreation departments were told to stay at home until further notice.

When the Daily News visited the building Monday, people were being turned away by security personnel in the reception area of the building.

Notices by the Department of Labour prohibiting employees and the public from accessing the building were placed on the door.

The building was condemned for various structural defects.

Despite numerous e-mails to the municipality on the condemnation of the building, and one requesting comment on the people’s experience on Monday, no response was forthcoming.

Shan Mackraj, a businessman from Briardene, wanted to submit an objection to the valuation of his Currie Road property.

He was unhappy when security personnel at the building told him municipal employees were not available.

“How did they reach the 15% by which they increased my property value? My concern is that the closing date for objections is March 31, and they don’t bother to tell us where to go since they’ve sent employees home,” Mackraj said.

“More frustrating is that their phone lines are not working. I tried to e-mail and their e-mail box is full and that is why I decided to leave my business and submit this objection in person.

“This is disappointing, to say the least.

“There’s total lack of respect for ratepayers in this municipality,” Mackraj said.

His last option was to write to the municipality with the hope that the letter would “land in the hands of someone serious about their job”.

“It has been a week since this building was closed down. Why then did the municipality not issue notices to ratepayers informing them about the development?

“This is not professional and it’s not value for the ratepayers,” he said.

Another ratepayer, who hoped to submit 21 objections for different people about their property valuations, said the building had been on the brink of condemnation for the past three years.

He said this was as a result of not maintaining the building.

“Now we are here to submit objections on property values and we are turned away. We don’t pay municipal employees’ salaries to stay at home.

“I wonder what’s going to happen once the deadline for submissions lapses.

“This is taking the people of this city for granted,” he said.

Alem Shaik, a businessman in the CBD, was turned away by security personnel at the door to the building. He said he could be fined or even arrested because his business licence had expired.

“I’ve been going to different offices in different municipal buildings to sort out my licence. My heart sank when the security told me that I couldn’t get help.

“How am I supposed to make a living if I don’t have a renewed licence?

“Why has it not been communicated that this building will be closed down and why has the municipality not arranged another venue to service its stakeholders?

“This is not how to treat people you claim to care about,” Shaik said.

Rishi Singh, president of the Clairwood Ratepayers and Residents Association, said the matter should be resolved immediately to allow property owners to submit objections to their property values.

The Daily News understood that the matter will be dealt with on Tuesday in Exco.

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Daily News

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