DURBAN - POOR ventilation, a leaking roof, visible deterioration of the building and non-compliance with various regulations are some of the defects identified at the Durban City Hall, the seat of government in the eThekwini Municipality.
The city’s conditional assessment report revealed a number of the city hall’s shortcomings, including that it doesn’t meet Covid-19 regulations.
The city’s report on the 110-year-old building was tabled at a full council meeting last week. The report identified several problems, including the visible deterioration of the building, manifested by ongoing building repairs, and challenges of non-compliance with building regulations.
In the report, the structural engineer identified that poor ventilation throughout the building rendered it non-compliant with various regulations, including the Covid-19 regulations.
An engineer had recommended that the timber section of the roof needed detailed evaluation to determine its structural integrity.
“It is likely that huge areas of the roof and ceiling were compromised due to rain and other factors. There are leaks in the roof and the ceiling collapses in different areas,” the reports reads.
According to the report, the ceiling on different levels had problems, with the first-floor ceiling, ground-floor ceiling, and the main auditorium ceiling collapsing in places. Fortunately, the ceiling collapse incidents had happened while the building was not in use.
“Should this have occurred during office hours, serious injuries or death may have occurred. The ceiling had collapsed and disintegrated, damaging furniture in the main auditorium. This has affected the use of the main auditorium and poses a health and safety risk to the occupants and users of the building,” the report reads.
It also revealed that the domestic pipes needed to be replaced as they have corroded and this affected the water quality. Also, the floorboards and wooden window frames in various areas were rotten and needed to be replaced.
There is inadequate fire protection within the building and additional fire hydrants and a fire detection system were required.
The report found that interior damage had been caused by service providers who lacked specialised knowledge.
“These service providers had undertaken work while not familiar with the intricacies of working on a heritage building.
“A holistic, efficient and cost-effective approach is required to address key building upgrades and renovations needed,” the report continues, adding that the scope of work outlined needed to be implemented over a multi-year period. A two-phase approach would be taken, said the report, and it was anticipated that the city hall upgrade and renovations would be completed over a five-year period.
According to the report, phase one would entail planning and phase two would include development of an implementation programme, preparation of tender documents and the procurement process.
“It is anticipated that an estimated cost of R1 000 000 will be required to cater for the Phase One upgrade and building renovation. A full report will be submitted which will cover costs for Phase 2 of the project,” the report said.
The DA’s Nicole Graham welcomed the phased approach to the work, saying this was essential due to the financial constraints faced by the city.
“The city hall is an incredibly important building and has a lot of historical and architectural value,” she said.
Mdu Nkosi of the IFP said the party was hopeful that an appropriate and deserving contractor would be engaged to do the renovations.
“The city hall is very important and its status should not deteriorate. It also plays a huge role in the tourism industry and we thus support the item which speaks about the renovation of the building,” he said.