New staircases delay at Lavender Hill court

The new staircases built by the City Of Cape Towns contractors.

Residents of Ashley Court will have to wait for the second phase of the City of Cape Town’s courts upgrade project in Lavender Hill to see their crumbling staircases replaced.

They have been questioning why their court was being ignored, while courts around them were getting new staircases.

A resident called Southern Mail three weeks ago after he said they had no response from the City of Cape Town to find out why their court was being overlooked.

A few residents of Ashley Court spoke to Southern Mail after their court committee had a meeting on Friday March 20 to discuss their dilemma.

Gavin Evans, who has been living in the courts since 1974 after they were forcibly removed from District Six, said these courts needed an upgrade very badly.

When asked when last the courts were upgraded, he said: “Last year they fixed some of the courts’ gutters. Recently, they put new staircases and a few new window frames on the other courts but not at Ashley Court.”

The residents fear for the lives of their elderly. Mr Evans said the railings of the staircases are “flimsy”. He saw an old woman slip and fall, which left her “hanging halfway off the stairs.”

Shafeeq October said last month they were preparing their court for an upgrade after speaking to councillor Marita Petersen, however, nothing had been done thus far. “We took off the fences, we had built ourselves to protect us from flying bullets (during gang violence) because we thought they were going to put up the new stairs.”

He said the fences around the ground floor obstructed the stairways, so they had to take it off before they could work on the stairs. “The people were talking (at the meeting) about putting the fences back up (because they feared being exposed to gang violence) but we encouraged them to wait for the City.”

Malusi Booi, mayoral committee member for human settlements, outlined the Lavender Hill courts upgrade plan: “The City’s human settlements directorate is investing R146 million into Phase 1 of its upgrading and replacing of precast staircases programme. Over financial year 2018/19 and 2019/20 approximately 969 old precast staircases at its multi-storey rental units across the metro are to be upgraded or replaced to ensure the safety of our tenants when accessing their rental homes. The staircase programme commenced in August 2018 included Parkwood, Retreat and Lavender Hill and many other areas.”

Lavender Hill and Retreat multi-storey blocks to be completed within this financial year are: Lavender Hill – Arundel (8 staircases), Aspeling (8 staircases), Constitution (8 staircases), Frere (8 staircases), Parkin (8 staircases), Pontac (8 staircases), Stone (8 staircases), Stukeri (8 staircases), Van Der Leur (8 staircases), Tyne (8 staircases) and Drury Courts (4-staircases only). Retreat – Horsley (8 staircases), Ayre (8 staircases), Lesar (8 staircases), Albertus (8 staircases) and Sterling courts (8 staircases).

Mr Booi said: “Under the current programme, the department is also seeking approval to embark on a pilot project to continue the finalisation of a universal design for the replacement of double-storey staircases in Lavender Hill, Retreat/Cafda, Parkwood, Hanover Park and Manenberg. The initial phase of this pilot commenced in Manenberg where three staircases have been replaced.

“The procurement of the Phase-2 programme contract is in an advanced stage. An award has been made, and pending section-33 approval, will see the appointment of a contract for a further six-years. The continuation of replacement of staircases will commence under Phase -2 of the programme.”

Asked when Ashley Court would be upgraded, he said: “The continuation of replacement of staircases, including Ashley Court, will commence under Phase 2 of the programme.

“Plans will be communicated to ward councillors.”