2 February 2018
85 Bertha Mkhize Road Building Owner Served With Non-Compliance Notice as Oversight Visit Reveal Gross Safety Violations
An oversight visit by eThekwini Municipality Deputy Mayor Fawzia Peer, who is also the Chairperson of the Security and Emergency Services Committee, to a problem building in the City has raised concerns with regard to the non-compliance of building owners to City by-laws. This non-compliance often compromises the safety of tenants.
Councillor Peer conducted a site visit to 85 Bertha Mkhize Road this morning, 2 February after a fire destroyed the building last night.
According to reports from the City’s Fire and Emergency Services Unit, the fire started at a cellphone shop on the ground floor of the building. Occupants from the second floor up to the 13th floor were unable to escape as the fire escape had been sealed and turned to into small trading areas.
The cause of the fire remains unclear. However, Councillor Peer was made aware of several serious contraventions in terms of fire regulations including that the building was not compliant in terms of section 2 of the interim code relating to fire prevention and flammable liquids and substances of the Municipality.
“A thorough inspection and assessment conducted by our Fire and Emergency Services Unit paints a very bad picture of negligence on the part of the owner. At the moment the structure is being used as an informal student accommodation establishment constructed with flammable polystyrene partitioning. It is also shocking that the construction of these units was done without proper ridged fire rated walls which could lead to the collapse of the informal structures,” she said.
Councillor Peer said she was shocked to learn that the building has no dedicated emergency routes and is being utilised outside of the approved occupation classification. “If it wasn’t for our Fire and Emergency Services Unit that managed to get to the scene within five minutes and put out the blaze, people would have died.”
She said the owner has been served with a one-month non-compliance notice for him to remedy the identified transgressions.
“As a Municipality we want to create a conducive environment for businesses to thrive, but we want business people to conduct their business in line with the Municipal by-laws and not to put the lives of residents in danger,” Councillor Peer added.
Councillor Peer further warned that the Municipality would deal decisively with building owners and landlords who do not comply with the relevant Standards and Building Regulations.
Issued by the eThekwini Municipality’s Head of Communications, Tozi Mthethwa.