Residents still fighting to have snags fixed

Maria Adonis points to the huge crack in her ceiling.

Residents of the Ottery marble flats have spent yet another start to the new year with unsightly defects, such as cracks in walls, pipes and window frames, at their homes, after the City of Cape Town contractors upgraded the flats in 2011.

The improvements to the so-called marble flats was part of the City’s Community Residential Unit (CRU) projects that were also implemented in Kewtown, Hanover Park, in Manenberg, Heideveld, Scottsville, Scottsdene, Uitsig, Woodlands, The Range (Elsies River) and Connaught.

Benedicta van Minnen, the City’s mayoral committee member for human settlements, said Vusela Construction was the initial contractor on the Ottery project. “However, they experienced financial constraints, resulting in their contract being terminated. Filcon was appointed thereafter but their contract was also terminated when they also experienced financial difficulties.

“Most of the defects attributable to the contracts that were terminated have now been attended to. The balance of complaints are not associated with the project and are being referred to the housing maintenance office where these will be attended to. Any further complaints from the residents (tenants) must be lodged with the local Housing office.”

However, Ottery residents spoke to Southern Mail a few days before Christmas and said they are “fed up” with being ignored.

Jenny Williams, a community leader, said she is inundated with calls and visits from her neighbours who have been complaining since 2011 about the snags. “We don’t understand why the City does not respond after I have sent reports several times to the maintenance office listing their complaints. The contractor finished the project in September and they still didn’t fix everyone’s snags.”

She said the last meeting was in November where the new Ward 66 councillor, William Akim called the community to air their views. “I heard about the meeting afterwards because not all of us were informed,” she said.

Ms Van Minnen said: “On Tuesday November 8, at 7pm, a public meeting was held by Mr Akim and proportional representative councillor Elgan Fortune at the Ottery civic centre in Bruce Road to address the concerns by the residents (tenants). The City rejects the assertions that complaints are not being attended to.”

A few residents showed Southern Mail the problems at their flats.

Maria Adonis, of Milwood Court, said she has had a crack in her ceiling since 2011. “ I try to keep my house clean but this wall doesn’t look nice and when it rains I must put a container under the crack to catch the rain-water. The kitchen wall next to the window was not completely plastered. The contractors wrote the letters SK on that wall but until today no one has come to fix it.”

A piece of the kitchen window pane also fell off. “I preferred the old walls and the paint they used to use before the upgrade,” said Ms Adonis.

Nazlie van der Fort, also of Milwood Court, feels that everyone pays rent and they are entitled to service delivery. “My windows can’t open because the contractor sealed it off with silicon to stop the leaking. However, the middle section of the window is still leaking.”

There is also a long gap from the ceiling to the wall where her window is. “It leaks through that gap and I have to clean off the mould every day,” said Ms Van der Fort.

Patricia Kannemeyer, also from Millwood Court, said she, “can’t keep the place neat. I have to use primer to clean the walls.”

She said she spends more money on cleaning products. “They could have fixed the cracks in the walls and filled the crack in my bathroom pipe.”

Ms Williams told Southern Mail that not only are some of the flats in a poor state, the wheelie bins are overflowing with dirt outside because there is a shortage of bins. “We have six bins for 16 flats. The wind is blowing the dirt all over and messing up the place.”

Ms Van Minnen responded: “The issue with regard to safeguarding of the refuse bins is being attended to and a lockable facility is intended to be provided early next year. “It must, however, be noted that the wheelie bins are being stolen, vandalised and also being used for criminal activities.”

“Therefore the City is employing local labour through its Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) to ensure effective cleaning of the area.

“It was indicated to the residents (tenants) that the City and the councillors will provide feedback during February 2017.”