Newcastillians living in the municipal flats in Suryaville are up in arms regarding the state of their living conditions. This being due to the dilapidated state of the flats coupled with the various health risks as a result thereof.
This now sees these troubled residents calling out to the Newcastle Municipality for answers. But could some of these answers be more troublesome than their current concerns?
Michael Schutte, one of the residents says, “According to the law, the use of asbestos is not permitted in homes. But most of the walls in the flats contain asbestos which affects people’s health.” And when referring to literature from CANSA, exposure to asbestos can lead to mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lung with an awfully bad prognosis, affirming Michael’s concerns.
Moreover, other than exposure to asbestos, residents face a number of issues within their homes and according to Schutte, these include broken tiles and leaking rooves, all of which have been reported to the Newcastle Municipality on numerous occasions over the years. “Even my doors are falling apart,” he adds.
Another resident who wishes to remain anonymous out of fear of being victimised highlights, “I reported the leak in my roof four years ago and nothing has been done to resolve the problem.” Furthermore, several flats have cracked walls, which residents believe must be addressed, especially as the Newcastle Municipality is in the process of transferring the flats over to the residents.
With these age-old concerns and issues surrounding the flats being brought forward, the Newcastle Municipality Communications department rebuttals with the following:
Firstly, regarding the use of asbestos in the flats, the department states, “The issue of asbestos is being addressed. Funding has been applied for to the Provincial Government of Human Settlements. This matter is collectively addressed with other matters also relating to asbestos in the whole of Newcastle.”
Looking at the issue of the leaks, the Communications Department affirms, this has been an on-going concern, “A service provider was appointed to address the matter. The work was done and correctly approved and paid for by the Province. However, the matter here is that within a short space of time the leaks started again. Then the issue becomes the quality of the repairs that were done.”
The matter has since been reported to the Provincial Department and the properties were visited by the Provincial investigators. The Newcastle Municipality will make the necessary arrangement for a follow-up on the matter with the Province.
Regarding the cracked rooves and wall, and damaged tiles, “In preparation of the transfer of flats to individual tenants, a service provider was appointed, as mentioned. During renovations, happy letters were signed by individual tenants at the end.”
The Department stresses it is therefore not clear when these ‘substantial’ damages to tiles occurred. Regarding the ‘major’ cracks, the department says it believes a professional Structural Engineer will have to be appointed to assess the damage.
However, “If there are major cracks, as alleged, the process might warrant condemnation of the building. Let the Municipality engage with the Province, as to get the guidance on the way forward on the matter,” the department concludes. With residents bringing these issues to the forefront it is clear the Municipality is on the matter. However, could these residents now be looking at their homes being condemned?
What are your thoughts on the matter? Share your views with us in the comment section below.
Author: Quinton Boucher and Calvin Swemmer
Edited: Calvin Swemmer