Cape homeowner says City is 'passing the buck' over damage to his property
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Cape Town - A Pelican Heights resident in Strandfontein has accused the City of passing the buck to a private construction company after his property suffered extensive damage during nearby construction work in 2019.
WBHO was appointed to install pipelines as part of the Aquifer Recharge Management project in Pelican Heights in 2019 when Yaggia Savahl’s property was damaged by diggings and vibrations from the construction due to the soil type, causing settlement and walls cracking. On one side of the house, the ceiling collapsed.
Savahl said the City stated that it was not its problem and that he should take the matter up with WBHO, which has absolved itself of responsibility.
“My boundary walls are also my house walls and are therefore a dangerous risk. Living in a double-storey I have cracks between the top deck and walls leading to the inside of my house. This was mentioned by the City’s engineer.
“They on visiting my property had (WBHO) machinery pass my property and had first-hand experience of what was happening while being inside my house. It was made clear that WBHO was way too close to my property. I'm close to the beach and have sandy soil. All this was mentioned (during visits) by engineers and officials of the City,” Savahl said.
He said this was another way of the City passing the buck while it legally signed and appointed WBHO, and not him.
“I have been advised that the City has to be held accountable - they granted the tender. WBHO has made it known to the City that their insurance rejected the claim, yet the City feels they don't need to act on what is clearly a requirement not being met,” he said.
Mayco member for Finance Ian Neilson said WBHO was in control of the construction project and construction site and indemnified the City from all claims or demands that would arise out of, or in connection with the performance of its contractual duties.
“On 4 November 2020, the resident was duly informed that his claim against the City was rejected and that he accordingly had to redirect his claim against WBHO.
“Mr Savahl was further advised of the internal resources available to him should he not be satisfied with the outcome of his claim in the form of the internal appeal process in terms of Section 62 of the Local Government Municipal Systems Act, No 32 of 2000. Mr Savahl elected to not follow the appeal process,” said Neilson.
WBHO said it has not been proven that Savahl’s property was damaged by WBHO laying pipes.
"Mr Savahl was advised that if he was in possession of any evidence which may indicate that our opinion or the opinion of professional engineers was incorrect that he should please furnish the same.
“Despite Mr Savahl being advised that we remain willing to consider all documents, evidence or facts that may have been overlooked, we have received no further evidence or reports from him challenging the conclusions reached in the report by the engineer, dated 5 December 2019, " the company said.