#JoburgFire extinguished, government doesn't have money to fix buildings
News / 6 September 2018, 7:51pm / Rabbie Serumula and Sthembiso Sithole
Mayor Herman Mashaba on Thursday said the #JoburgFire has been put out, but the government doesn't have money to rejuvenate any of the hundreds of dilapidated buildings in the Joburg inner city.
“We are pleased that the fire has been put out. It is now a question of ensuring that it does not reignite.”
Mashaba said the city will get a forensic team to assess and check how the fire that killed three firefighters, at the Bank of Lisbon building in the Joburg CBD, started.
“We are also bringing in structural engineers to come and assess the integrity of the building,” he said. “We are pleased with the effort our team has put in. Some of them have not really slept for 24 hours.”
Mashaba said he has been making pronouncements since December 2016 when expressed his concern with the safety and health standards in some of the building in the Joburg CBD.
“We have identified about 500 buildings where something really has to be done. We have made a commitment to take back this city. Where we can not find the owners, we must expropriate these buildings. When we find them, we will make sure they renovate the structures so they can meet our safety and health standards.”
Mashaba said the city is busy with this journey. “A few weeks ago, I launched 71 buildings which the City of Joburg has been acquiring over the last few years. We have been asking the private sector to work with us to turn these buildings into affordable accommodations for our people, student accommodations and commercial spaces.”
He explained that government has no money to rejuvenate its buildings and that they needed the private sector to come into play and invest.
Mashaba also expressed that complaints from government employees about the Bank of Lisbon building. “If people have been complaining about the safety and health standards of a government owned building, what about buildings in the inner city that are hijacked where you find children living under totally unacceptable conditions.”
Gauteng Premier David Makhura released the names of the firefighters who died while trying to contain. The names of fallen heroes are, Simphiwe Moropane, 28, Mduduzi Ndlovu, 40, and Khathutshelo Muedi, 37.
#JoburgFire Eye-witness account from Percy Makholwa, an employee at Dept of Human Settlements policy & research unit. Makholwa is angry, says the building is a health hazard and this is a third incident of fire. He says GP govt must take their lives seriously @AfriNewsAgencypic.twitter.com/juf7oXq6em
"I am more than ashamed when there are lives lost," said Makhura.
He also mentioned that will be meeting with students from a residence across the road from Bank of Lisbon. Some of the students were allowed to go back into the building, but their student accommodation was "not safe".
The students, and workers from other neighbouring buildings were asked to evacuate their buildings. The fear rose from the structural integrity of the flame ridden building. The building had been ablaze for over 24 hours and Gauteng Department of infrastructure MEC Jacob Mamabolo said they received reinforcements from Ekurhuleni and Tshwane to help extinguish the flames.
A total of 1115 employees were safely evacuated from the building on Wednesday. Officials had a meeting at 5pm on Thursday to discuss what to do with the findings from a report they received last week, regarding the state of seven other buildings.
The details of the said report will be shared next week, said Mamabolo who also stated that other buildings will be sought for department employees.
“From next week we will start looking for alternative buildings for the employees. We will not rush people to come back, but we also won’t have workers staying home for too long.”