eThekwini Municipality Takes Action: Revitalizing Inner City Safely

  • Collaborative Efforts to Address Unsafe Buildings: The eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality is actively collaborating with property owners to tackle the issue of unsafe buildings within the inner city. Through the establishment of the Problem Buildings Division, a specialized unit, the municipality aims to identify and address derelict, abandoned, and structurally unsound buildings.
  • Legal Measures and Accountability: Property owners whose buildings are deemed unsafe are urged to engage with the municipality to rectify the situation. Failure to comply may result in legal action, including demolition orders or expropriation, with all associated costs borne by the owner. However, there's an option for owners to partner with the municipality to develop action plans for rehabilitation.
  • Successes and Proactive Interventions: The article highlights a recent success story where illegal occupants were evicted from a problematic building. Despite challenges, the Problem Building Division intervened with proactive measures such as debris removal and property fortification. This exemplifies the municipality's commitment to safeguarding urban spaces and fostering a vibrant inner city environment.
unsafe buildings

In an endeavor to revitalize the inner city and mitigate the hazards posed by unsafe buildings, the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality has escalated its collaboration with property owners. This strategic move follows the establishment of the Problem Buildings Division, a specialized unit dedicated to addressing the issue of precarious structures within the urban landscape.

Termed as “problem buildings,” these structures encompass a spectrum of issues ranging from dereliction and abandonment to hijacking, structural instability, and illegal erection. Recognizing the social ramifications associated with such buildings, including homelessness, crime, and drug activity, the municipality has set forth a comprehensive approach to combat this menace.

Led by Deputy City Manager of Economic Development, Lihle Phewa, the division has already identified approximately 40 problematic buildings within the city. These structures have been flagged for immediate attention, with the initiation of the process to serve relevant notices in compliance with the National Building Regulations and Standards Act, and the Problem Building by-laws.

Property owners are urged to proactively engage with the municipality if their buildings are deemed unsafe for occupation. Failure to comply with remedial measures may result in legal action, including demolition orders, appointment of judicial administrators, or even expropriation of the property. Emphasizing accountability, Phewa asserts that all costs incurred in rectifying the situation will be borne by the property owner.

However, the municipality extends an olive branch to property owners, offering partnership opportunities to devise actionable plans aimed at salvaging problem buildings. By working collaboratively, owners can outline strategies with clear timelines to rehabilitate these structures, thereby contributing to the rejuvenation of the inner city landscape.

Illustrating the efficacy of the division’s efforts, Phewa recounts the recent success story of the eviction of illegal occupants from the Crieff Place Building, South Beach. Following legal proceedings, the property owner managed to evict trespassers and demolish the vacant structure. Despite these measures, challenges persisted as a portion of the superstructure remained unsecured, leading to reoccupation.

In response, the Problem Building Division intervened, undertaking remedial actions such as debris removal, structural repairs, and fortification of the property to deter further encroachment. This proactive approach underscores the municipality’s commitment to safeguarding urban spaces and fostering a conducive environment for residents and businesses alike.

As eThekwini Municipality endeavors to address the scourge of unsafe buildings, it calls upon property owners to join hands in this collective effort towards a safer, more vibrant inner city. Through sustained collaboration and proactive interventions, the vision of a thriving urban landscape can be realized, ensuring a better quality of life for all South Africans.

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