Durban's bold move to clear city of bad buildings
Nzuza was addressing business leaders around Durban during the CEOs Forum at the Durban ICC in an effort to build and sustain collaborations between the city and the business sector.
In countering the challenge, Nzuza said a master plan for these buildings had been developed, and the city’s legal services team was actively intervening, including handing over sites for court action and engaging with owners.
One such building was the Tong Lok in the Point area.
He said there were 80 bad buildings around the city with six identified for demolition, three of which had already been demolished.
Phillip Sithole, eThekwini deputy city manager for economic development and planning, said identifying the problem buildings involved ongoing monitoring and enforcement of by-laws.
The end result of the monitoring was the demolition or revamping of the identified building.
“The monitoring involves looking into water and electricity meters, and fire escape routes and extinguishers. Engineers look into the structural integrity of the identified building and if non-compliances are picked up, non-compliance notices are issued,” said Sithole.
If owners failed to comply with by-laws, the city would issue them with penalties.
Sithole said in the case of abandoned buildings, the city would seek court orders to take over the structures.
“If the building is structurally sound, renovations are done, and if necessary they are re-purposed. The level of non-compliance and threat to human life determines the future of a building. If people’s lives are in danger, it becomes quicker to decide the fate of a building.
“However, if no life is in danger, the process to enforce a decision takes longer. A tracing company is employed to trace the owner if he or she is not known. There are court procedures, so the process is not simple,” he said.
The Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) urged the city to do all in its power to deal with bad buildings.
Palesa Phili, DCCI chief executive, said businesses invested where there was cleanliness.
“In the city, some areas are an eyesore and businesses are moving away from those. The city has to ensure that these buildings are taken down or revamped, depending on their structural integrity. We are encouraged by the energy shown by the new leadership in eThekwini,” Phili said.